Maintaining roads all year long

Last updated November 18, 2021
Reading time: 2 min

Daily car, truck and bus traffic as well as our rough weather take a toll on our roads. To make sure that all road users stay safe, Montréal performs maintenance, repair and reconstruction work all year long.

What kind of maintenance work is performed?

City teams perform different types of maintenance work depending on the condition of the road. This can extend a road’s lifespan by several years.

Repairing potholes

Each year, the city repairs between 120,000 and 200,000 potholes on major streets alone. Potholes form when there are freeze and thaw cycles in the winter and early spring. During thaws, water infiltrates the road. When it refreezes, the water expands. When it thaws again, the ice melts and leaves a hole under the road, which eventually collapses as vehicles travel across it.

Pothole repair is a short-term operation which requires closing part of the road to traffic. We clean the hole and fill it with an asphalt blend that we then pack down until the surface of the road is level.

Potholes can be repaired at any time of year. In the wintertime, we use cold asphalt to make urgent temporary repairs. In the springtime, we use hot asphalt, which is more resistant. 

Sealing cracks

Sealing cracks is a preventive maintenance technique which is performed in different ways depending on the width of the crack. Sealing cracks makes the road more watertight, slows down deterioration as well as the need for further repairs or reconstruction. Small cracks (less than 1.9 cm or ¾ inch) are repaired with a coat of asphalt and rubber, while larger cracks are sealed with a blend of cold asphalt. A lane of traffic must be closed for a short period of time during work to seal cracks.

Pavement conditions

You can access data on pavement conditions across the road network through the city’s open data portal.

When and how are roads repaired?

Roads with more extensive damage must be repaired. There are several different phases:

  1. Level the surface of an existing road 
  2. Repair the road’s foundation, if needed
  3. Repair and adjust sewer drains and covers, if needed 
  4. Cover with a new layer of asphalt

Repair work is performed from spring to fall and usually, a week is needed for an average stretch of road. Our teams try to keep at least one lane of traffic open during paving.

When do roads need to be rebuilt?

When underground infrastructures like drinking water and sewer mains have deteriorated or major redevelopment work is planned, we rebuild roads. This sustainable work consists of:

  1. Removing asphalt and the road’s foundation to a depth of one metre
  2. Put in a new foundation made of new and recycled materials
  3. Resurfacing with a new layer of asphalt
  4. Painting road markings using a tracing truck (for lines) and stencils (for all other symbols, including pedestrian crossings, stop lines, arrows, etc.) 

Rebuilding a road can take several weeks depending on the area to rebuild and related work when it is part of an integrated project.

Did you know?

Asphalt is recyclable. It can be melted and reused!