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How big do potholes have to get before they are called craters?

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About a month ago I complained in this column about the state of our roads after a long, hard winter.

Just when I thought they couldn’t get any worse, they have.

Thankfully, some of the newer road work has held up pretty well under the circumstances. Canton’s newly constructed Main Street, thankfully, did not suffer the same fate as some of our back roads and other village and city streets. That’s a relief, because I don’t think drivers through Canton can take much more road work on Main Street.

In Ogdensburg, however, we have a different story. Paterson and Ford streets are, by far, the worst I have ever seen them. What were potholes three weeks ago are now gaping holes in the earth. Some appear to be 8 to 10 inches deep and growing. I drive a newer SUV, but I still drive in fear of breaking an axle or getting a flat tire. Even if you go 15 miles an hour down the street, you might chip a tooth.

Back roads around the city are just as bad. I would single one out, but they are all pretty terrible.

City, town, St. Lawrence County and state road crews are going to have their work cut out for them once the ground thaws and they can fix some of the damage Old Man Winter did this season.

This winter has been a bad one for drivers on other fronts as well. Streets have been dangerously narrow because snow banks could only be cut back so much. Ogdensburg’s two-lane Downtown Arterial was really more like a lane and a quarter for most of the winter.

We got a thaw every so often to melt the snow, but then more snow would come to take the place of what we lost, and thensome. What were normally spacious two-lane streets with plenty of room for parking were dangerously narrow, with parked cars causing bottlenecks in busy areas.

Snowbanks for a while were also so high that oncoming traffic wasn’t all that visible. At least a handful of minor accidents this winter were directly attributable to high snowbanks.

I have nothing but respect for our exhausted road crews. They have worked long hours and did the best they possibly could to remove snow and ice from our roads. There was so much that a few times they ran out of places to put it.

I’ve heard people complain about the crappy job plow operators have done to keep the streets clear, but these people obviously don’t understand how difficult it has been to keep up with the sheer volume of snow or how the situation was compounded by thick ice under the snow that made total removal impossible. Give them a break, folks. Anybody who has tried to shovel what Mother Nature has dumped on us should know that our plow crews were dealing with the same mess on an exponentially larger scale, around the clock, and I think they have done admirably under the circumstances.

I sincerely hope we are through the worst of it, but the weather has been brutally unpredictable. Last Saturday I looked outside to see my neighbor happily barbecuing on a mild, sunny day. I thought to myself how nice it would be to do that on Sunday. I woke up Sunday morning to a foot of fresh snow. It’s probably going to be a while before I get reacquainted with my Weber.

Once winter weather finally leaves us, I will be curious to see how much managing it has cost our municipalities in terms of manpower, overtime pay, road salt, equipment maintenance, and repairing the growing road craters due to plow damage and frost heave. I think the figure added up for all of St. Lawrence County will be staggering.

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