BRUCE BUMSTEAD/BRANDON SUN
Vehicles travel on Veterans Way in the RM of Cornwallis on Saturday.
Considered by some to be one of the most dangerous roadways in the Brandon area, many say the narrow and busy Veterans Way is long overdue for major improvements.
But the 18-kilometre stretch of Highway 457 connecting Brandon to CFB Shilo has been neglected by all levels of government.
RM of Cornwallis resident Shelley Livingstone suffered serious injuries in November 2012 after she was in a head-on crash with a vehicle trying to pass a cluster of Shilo area-bound vehicles east of Highway 110 on the increasingly busy provincial corridor.
Livingstone was off work for more than a month and still has a lingering neck injury. She believes if she wasn’t driving a new car with several airbags, she’d be dead.
"Even the RCMP officer said they were amazed no one was dead in either of the vehicles," she told the Sun.
Livingstone blames the "almost unbearable" rush hour traffic and the lack of any passing lane for the crash and said she’s "white-knuckled" every time she drives to work.
"There’s always such lineups of traffic, it’s just crazy on that road in the morning," she said.
The road is too narrow, there’s too many impatient drivers and virtually no shoulder to drive on in case of an emergency, Livingstone said, adding a proper shoulder could have saved her from the collision.
"If you go off even a hair, the asphalt’s all chipped out now and it’s dangerous," she said. "They need to widen that road, or if nothing else pave those shoulders.
"God help you if you want to pull off the road to answer your cellphone or if you have an emergency. There’s no road to pull off onto."
RM of Cornwallis Reeve Reg Atkinson said he hates Veterans Way "with a passion," but admitted the municipal council has done little to push the province on improving the highway.
"We should be working more on that than we have been. I think everybody’s aware that it’s a dangerous road and there has been counts done on it," Atkinson said. "I’m telling you, that’s a scary road."
There are a handful of dangerous intersections along the stretch of highway, Atkinson said, including Waggle Spring Road — a haul road where approximately one truck per minute crosses Highway 457 to get to the Trans-Canada Highway.
"People get a little anxious and they pass you when they’re not supposed to and any left turn off that highway is very scary," he said. "Sometimes it gets a little unnerving.
"I bet you money there are roads in Manitoba that have an extra lane that don’t have the traffic that one does."
Persistent speeding on the road, Atkinson added, is also to blame for the road’s danger.
"I have no sympathy for anyone that gets a speeding ticket on that road. None."
Cliff Cullen, Progressive Conservative MLA for Spruce Woods, said he hasn’t heard many complaints from constituents about the road.
"There’s certainly a lot of roads that need improvement and Veterans Way is one of them," Cullen said. "Certainly there’s a safety issue there, there’s no doubt about it ... certainly a new focus will hopefully be on Veterans Way."
There are a number of highways around Brandon other than Highway 457, including Highways 10, 5, 18 and 23, Cullen said.
"It’s an issue but there are a lot of other infrastructure issues pertaining to roads that have to be addressed as well."
A Manitoba government spokesperson representing the department of infrastructure and transportation said Veterans Way is "under consideration" by the department.
"We are currently in the planning stages of updating our five-year highway capital plan," the spokesperson said via email. "One of the projects under consideration is an upgrading on PR 457."
The Manitoba government pledged $5.5 billion in tax-hike-funded infrastructure projects over the next five years to flood proof and repair the province’s major highways during last week’s throne speech.
Details on where exactly that money is going and whether Highway 457 will be a provincial priority will be revealed in the spring budget.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition November 18, 2013