2024 Road Maintenance

The road conditions in Calgary are bad and you won’t get any argument out of me to the contrary. We didn’t arrive at the situation we are in overnight, and we won’t get out of it overnight either. Read on to learn more about how we arrived here, what is being done, and how Calgary is working to address potholes and the deteriorating state of our roads…


Council has been underfunding roads maintenance for a long time and currently sits with an estimated $550 million dollar backlog of road maintenance work. Defunding regular maintenance of asset classes that are not in danger of failure is regrettably a target for municipal councils coming up short on revenue to move forward other priorities. The impacts of this locally have really begun to impact the daily lives of Ward 12 and all Calgary over the past couple years.

Calgary’s PQI rating is 38/100, and the Canadian average is 61/100.  2024 Capital budget for surface overlay is $40M, plus an additional $7.7M in annual funding allocated through the 5A repaving that was approved through Council budget adjustments and $8.9M this week from the Winter Maintenance Reserve for a total of $56.6M. As you will see below, this isn’t nearly enough to really begin addressing the backlog.

The below graphic from 2022 illustrates where Calgary stands in comparison to Edmonton and the Canadian average, as well as where Calgary could expect to land on the PQI with a clean backlog and additional program funding.

Council Direction & Funding

Council has not been idle and Cllr. Demong, around to see the defunding of our road maintenance program in previous years, rallied Council last year to shine a light on the issue. His Notice of Motion was key in securing the $7.7M in extra funding at the 2023 Adjustments and then he secured an additional $8.9M this past week.

As you can see from the Notice of Motion, Administration has been directed to bring recommendations for enhanced funding to the mid-cycle budget adjustments this November. I intended work with Cllr. Demong and my colleagues to ensure that past and future inattention doesn't put this vital infrastructure asset in an even more precarious position.

Ultimately, to address the $550M gap (part of a much larger $7.73B gap) Council will need to make hard decisions and find ways to work with the other levels of Government to properly fund high value priorities and return funding to our long-term maintenance obligations.


Battling the Potholes

Repairing potholes is an important part of maintaining Calgary's mobility network and an effective form of road repair that helps keep Calgarians moving safely. Potholes develop on Calgary’s streets when moisture penetrates the asphalt surface and freezes, forming an ice pocket during periods of freeze-thaw. Pavement quality can also be a factor in the formation of potholes.

Year to date, we have received approximately 5,830 pothole maintenance service requests. The total service requests for 2023 were 7,634. In 2023, crews completed a record number of pothole repairs, with 33,489 potholes filled. As of May 24, 2024, crews have filled 8,826 potholes, which is approximately 2000 more repairs than at this point last year.

This Spring we had uncharacteristically high levels of snowfall. As a result, Mobility crews that would normally be available to work on pothole repairs were needed for winter maintenance activities. The result is that pothole repair work is slightly behind our target position in 2024.


How does the City prioritize the potholes?

The City proactively monitors the mobility network, addressing priority repairs and addressing service requests. Pothole repairs are completed by operational crews and identified in 311 citizen reports and through routine inspections. Inspections are typically completed within ten to fourteen business days, and repairs are prioritized using a five-point scale based on pothole severity, safety impacts and location:

    • High Priority Locations (Priority 1/Priority 2): Repaired within five business days of inspection*  
    • Medium Priority Locations (Priority 3): Repaired within one - two months of inspection* 
    • Alleys/Priority 4/Priority 5: Timeline for repair dependent on volume of High/Medium Priority repairs

Note: the above are targeted timelines based on factors such as weather, resource capacity, equipment availability, service priorities and can vary.



The City has recently acquired five Infrared Asphalt Heaters (one per district) to work into their road maintenance process. Calgary should see these in action sometime in June and they will come with improved outcomes such as…


Ability to quickly repair damaged sections of roadway. Minimize material waste and labor costs associated with larger patching or resurfacing projects.

Improved quality:

The localized heating provided by infrared heaters helps to create a seamless bond between the new asphalt and the existing pavement, resulting in a smoother surface and longer-lasting repairs. This can improve the overall quality and durability of the road surface.


Ability to repair continuous sections of pavement or just individual potholes. Can be used for a variety of road maintenance tasks, including pothole repair, pavement rejuvenation, crack sealing or alligator cracking.

Watch the basics of infrared repair here.


AI for Road Conditions Assessment

Road pavement condition assessments are an essential part of maintaining and improving the transportation infrastructure in Calgary. Traditionally, these assessments are done manually by inspectors who drive along the roads and record their observations. However, this method is time-consuming, costly, and subjective. To address these challenges, The City has been piloting the use of AI for road pavement condition assessment, leveraging its ability to automatically detect defects that might be missed through manual inspections.

Read more about AI and its role in City roads here.


As always, don't hesitate to reach out to carry on the conversation,

Email: [email protected]


Evan Spencer

Cllr. Ward 12



Further FAQ:

How does the process work?

The City fills potholes on a priority basis, similar to snow clearing. We focus on higher volume roads, as well as roads where several potholes are close together. Work on major routes is typically done at night-time to avoid traffic disruptions.


How do I report a pothole?

People are encouraged to learn more about The City’s pothole program by visiting Calgary.ca/potholes. The page includes a 311 link for Calgarians to report a pothole and an interactive map that shows where potholes have been reported and repaired.


What is the PQI- Paving Quality Index?

The Pavement Quality Index (PQI) is a numerical measure used to assess the overall condition of a pavement section. It provides a way to quantify the present condition of the pavement and predict its future condition. Here’s how it works:

  1. Ride Quality Index (RQI): The RQI represents pavement roughness. It’s based on the International Roughness Index (IRI), which measures the vertical movement of a standard vehicle traveling down the roadway. If a pavement were perfectly smooth, the IRI would be zero. However, in reality, roughness exists due to dips and bumps, resulting in a positive IRI value. The higher the IRI, the rougher the roadway.
  2. Surface Rating (SR): The SR represents pavement distress. It takes into account factors like cracking, patching, and other signs of wear and deterioration on the pavement surface.
  3. Calculating PQI: The PQI is calculated by multiplying the RQI and SR:


The resulting PQI score falls within a range from 0 (poor condition) to 100 (excellent condition). Municipalities and transportation agencies use PQI scores to prioritize maintenance and repairs, allocate resources efficiently, and plan for pavement treatments.

  • Evan Spencer
    published this page in Blog 2024-05-31 11:35:56 -0600