MATTHEW KERR/BRANDON SUN
CAA Manitoba’s Liz Peters kneels on Victoria Avenue. Various stretches of Victoria Avenue and Patricia Avenue are noted in CAA’s Worst Roads poll for having pavement issues, while traffic congestion on 18th Street was also listed as a problem.
Highway 21 has cracked a top-10 list on the CAA Worst Roads in Manitoba survey with a couple of weeks left for members of the public to cast online votes.
The stretch between the Goodlands border crossing and Deloraine has received the sixth-highest number of the 644 votes cast as of Tuesday afternoon.
"That’s no surprise," said Deloraine Mayor Brian Franklin. "Obviously people are upset, but what do you do? My understanding is there are roads all over the province that are in bad shape. But Highway 21 is bad from Deloraine down to the (U.S.) border. It’s not good, that’s for sure."
The study, the first CAA Manitoba has ever done, is accessible through CAA Manitoba’s website at caamanitoba.com. There, people can select a stretch of roadway in Manitoba as the worst they have seen.
The other nine spots on the top-10 list are occupied by Winnipeg roadways, however that can be chalked up to a combination of population density and awareness of the poll, said Liz Peters, CAA Manitoba’s public and government affairs manager.
"CAA has consistently seen the infrastructure deficit and the lack of attention to improving that problem has been a problem," Peters said. "CAA Ontario has run this program for nine years and they say that 90 per cent of the roads on their top-10 list get fixed."
No road inside Brandon city limits cracks the provincial top-10 list, but that doesn’t mean there were no areas of concern.
Various stretches of Victoria Avenue and Patricia Avenue were noted for having pavement issues, while traffic congestion on 18th Street was also listed as a problem.
"It seems that people have a higher tolerance for the condition of a rural road, but when it comes to a main thoroughfare, people won’t accept what we are seeing on Victoria Avenue, or even the congestion issues on 18th Street," Peters said.
Brandon Mayor Shari Decter Hirst said the problem areas on Victoria Avenue and 18th Street are also provincial highways and that other levels of government have to weigh in before the city can do anything.
"The challenge is it’s always the most travelled roads and bridges that aren’t under city control," Decter Hirst said. "We try to work collegially, but at the end of the day, those are provincial highways. It’s frustrating."
Decter Hirst said she has lived in Brandon "my whole life" and is not sure the condition of roadways has changed significantly.
"The roads aren’t substantively different from any other spring and this has been a challenging year because our normal freeze-thaw cycles are all disrupted. Our patching timelines are off as well because we can’t get out there until Zenith Paving gets their asphalt plant up and running. We are putting down our temporary winter mix patches even though we’ve had temperatures in the 20s."
As of 6 p.m. on Tuesday, St. James Street in Winnipeg was rated the worst in the province, followed by Marion Street in Winnipeg, Molson Street in Winnipeg, Kenaston Boulevard in Winnipeg and McGillivray Boulevard in Winnipeg.
Franklin is hopeful that the CAA study would shed some light on the Highway 21 problem, but wonders whether it will have any impact.
"People are asking for money and hope their portions are going to get fixed but it will be very interesting to see what happens," Franklin said.
"It’s certainly an inconvenience to anyone that uses the road daily, whether it’s farmers, school bus traffic or those in the oil industry."
Voting for the province’s worst roads will continue online at caamanitoba.com until April 23.
While Winnipeg streets fall under the scrutiny of CAA’s Worst Roads poll, Brandon’s operational services general manager Rod Sage has not heard similar complaints about Brandon’s roadways.
"I’ve had very few complains about potholes, so we use the adage that no news is good news," Sage said.
That’s not to say Brandonites are driving on 100 per cent smooth surfaces. There remains broken pavement on 10th Street between Park Avenue and Victoria Avenue. Those crossing the CN tracks at First Street are voicing displeasure about the state of that roadway, and Patricia Avenue between Ninth Street and 18th Street is in rough shape. Sage said Aberdeen Avenue also has rough spots in need of attention.
"You know, I’d love to say we have no streets we have to work on, but that’s never the case," Sage said. "There will always be potholes to work on. I know that some streets historically have been a problem for us that haven’t been this year. In other ways, the sooner we can get some hot-mix asphalt and the local supplier up and running, the better it is for us to get out and make more permanent repairs."
Right now, the city is restricted to using what is called a winter mix asphalt, where ground up pieces of roadway are mixed together with a binding agent. It is useful for short-term solutions for problem roadways but breaks apart more easily than hot mix asphalt. Sage added city crews will continue to respond to problem potholes reported by area residents. Potholes can be reported by calling 729-2200.
» Brandon Sun
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition April 11, 2012