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City hopes paving project is pothole panacea

Iqaluit workers to throw down 13 kilometres of asphalt this summer


Iqaluit drivers could be cruising on smooth black layers of asphalt by mid-August.

The City of Iqaluit hopes to finish work on 13 kilometres of new asphalt by then, paving almost all of Iqaluit’s roads. In the process, city staff hope the work will cut down on plumes of summer dust and ease the damage caused by bumpy roads to cars and drivers alike.

This summer crews will finish off Tundra Valley and also pave Happy Valley, Lower Iqaluit and the Lower Base area. That’s 13 kilometres of blacktop, said John Hussey, Iqaluit’s chief administrative officer.

“If we cross our fingers and sealift is favourable to us, we’ll probably try and see if asphalt can be laid down by mid to late July” and finished by mid-August, Hussey said. For now, crews are laying down gravel, improving the roadbed and culverts.

Money for the project comes from a two-year, $12 million capital agreement between the city and the Government of Nunavut announced last summer.

Paving is good news for Iqaluit cabbie Nick Dunphy. He said more paved streets mean cabbies can get around town faster, with less wear and tear on both their cars and their bodies.

“I’m just happy they’re finally doing something about the roads,” he said.

Dunphy couldn’t put a precise figure on how much pothole-related damage costs him in maintenance, but said he just went through repairs to his engine, transmission and boll joints. Shock absorbers and sway bars, another part of the car’s suspension, also take a beating, he said.

The bumps in the roads have also been known to take a physical toll on drivers. Dunphy said that doesn’t really bother him physically, it just makes for a long day behind the wheel.

“I just get angry and excited for my shift to finish,” Dunphy said. “It can be really stressful sometimes when you keep going over the same spots. You can’t refuse to go [somewhere] because it’s part of your job.”

Hussey said the paving will also cut the amount of airborne dust in Iqaluit during the summer. The city is also spraying calcium chloride, a substance widely used to control dust, on streets that won’t be paved. But calcium chloride can’t be used before a road is paved, because it interferes with the asphalt, Hussey said.

“We’ve got to bear with it a little bit, until we get the asphalt in,” he said.

Hussey said the city also plans this summer to repair pothole-riddled stretches of Apex Road near the water booster station and Joamie school.

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