A Sudbury staff report attributes the soaring number of pothole damage claims in 2019 to weather and "excessive media attention given to potholes." (File)

Pothole claims filed against Greater Sudbury have declined dramatically so far in 2020, a staff report says, after a big spike in 2019.

The report attributes the soaring number of claims in 2019 to weather and "excessive media attention given to potholes."

Prepared for the city's finance and administration committee next week, the report lists the number of claims each year since 2015. There were 106 claims in 2015, followed by 111 and 127 in the following two years, before almost doubling to 234 in 2018.

In 2019, that number hit 553, dropping to 84 this year as of Aug. 30. While the number varies year to year, only a fraction of claims ends up in a payout.

Only 10 of the 106 claims filed in 2015 ended up as a paid claim. Of the 234 in 2018, just 26 ended up as paid claims. Last year, 72 of the 553 claims were paid out.

Expected to decline

"The spike in 2019 could be caused by both the extraordinary winter conditions experienced and the excessive media attention given to potholes," the report said. "With added investment to the road system, it is anticipated that claims will continue to decline."

In terms of dollar costs, claims paid out in 2019 cost taxpayers $187,909, compared to just $28,219 so far in 2020.

"The reasons for the reduction in claims (in 2020) deals with the amount of investment made to our road system as well as fewer drivers on the road due to COVID-19," the report said. "The total investment to our roads, both capital and operational in 2018 and 2019, was approximately $140 million."

The city receives the most pothole claims in March of every year, as the winter thaw and the city's aging road network combine to reveal – and create – potholes. The city received 254 claims in March 2019 alone.

Members of the finance committee will receive the report at its meeting Nov. 17.