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What happens after this January thaw

City prepares for tomorrow's flash freeze

City road crews are being called in overnight to prepare for a dramatic weather flip in the forecast.

Environment Canada has issued a flash freeze warning about how temperatures are expected to fall rapidly and cause icy conditions Friday morning. 

"We've already made the call for 3 a.m. tomorrow morning," said Dave Friary, Barrie's Director of Roads, Parks and Fleet. 

"Staff are going to come in because that's when we're anticipating the freeze up and flash freeze.  All those guys that have been doing pot holes will be in early tomorrow morning trying to make the drive to work a little bit easier."

Friary says it's been a 'Barrie winter' but the fact rain is in the forecast dictates specific remedies for safe roads. 

"Since it's going to rain we're not going to go out and put down any pre-wetting because it would just wash away. We'll send staff out on a salt run and that should put enough product on the roadway to prevent some of the flash freezing," said Friary.

Since winter started, city crews have repaired 698 pot holes in Nov. and Dec. In 2017, they fixed 17,911 pot holes. 

The city launched a Pot Hole App which has allowed for more accurate tracking.

"The crews out in the field have smart phones. They pull up a map and see the red flags where the pot holes are. When they fix a pot hole, they hit that flag, it changes colour and it records that they've been there and they repaired it."

Typically if there are a lot of freeze and thaw cycles, pot holes start popping up. 

"Tomorrow is going to set up for some a very good pot hole making day. All the water is going to be sitting in the cracks and the holes and it's going to freeze solid. The ice will expand and basically blow the asphalt off the roadway.  There's going to be a few more pot holes next week than we've had today," said Friary.

No asphalt plants are open right now so the holes are filled with cold patch - an aggregate like gravel - and then covered in tar.  The 'patch' will last anywhere from a day to a couple of weeks but it is only a temporary fix.

Friary says his department expects to be about $400,000 over budget for the entire year 'but that's on a $6 million budget.'

'That overage is managed as part of the overall budget. Our overall budget is still looking pretty good."



Sue Sgambati

About the Author: Sue Sgambati

Sue has had a 30-year career in journalism working for print, radio and TV. She is a proud member of the Barrie community.
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