Rural road maintenance overwhelmed

Keely
Keely Dakin
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“She landed in the ditch one night and had to walk over a mile home,” says Angela Swystun, whose 83-year-old mother-in-law, Trudy Wasyliw , had to abandon her car where it mired in the mud and trek home in late July.

Cory Wasyliw looks a the spot where his mother, 83-year-old Trudy Wasyliw, slid off the muddy, ungraveled road on a wet day in late July. She then had to walk a kilometre through the mud to reach her home. The road was dry and hard-packed on Monday afternoon, but as soon as a sprinkle of rain strikes the ground the dirt turns into a thick, sometimes impassible mud.

Wasyliw has been battling the mud road that leads to her home for three years now.

“It’s supposed to be a gravel road, but there’s no gravel on it,” says Cory Wasyliw, Wasyliw’s son.

Cory says he has been getting more and more frustrated with the condition of the two kilometre road out to his mothers place and has put in numerous complaints to the Rural Municipality(RM) of Prince Albert, which is responsible for the range roads maintenance.

“When my mom had to walk a mile, I’m sitting there going, ‘okay, this has gone too far’,” said Cory.

“Her car actually spun right around and went into the ditch,” Cory says. “The whole front end of the car was in the ditch.”

Cory recalls the phone call he made that afternoon to check on her, when she failed to call him when she got home, as is her habit.

“You could tell she was pretty shook up, she said, ‘oh, well I had to walk the last mile.’”

He drove out to haul his mother’s car out of the ditch with his truck.

“Even with four wheel drive I could barely stay on the road,” Cory says. “I’m in the middle of the road and I’m sliding off the road.”

So he called for a tow truck to do the job.

The tow truck parked in the middle of the Meridian intersection and managed to haul her car out of the ditch, before getting stuck himself.

A load of gravel was recently dumped at the intersection with the Meridian Road, “But of course the next rain, it disappeared—the gravel just sank through.”

“We’ve gotta’ raise the road,” for a permanent fix, agrees Paul Ross, foreman for the RM since 1997, however, he says that may not happen for a while yet.

Cory and his partner Angela have made repeated complaints to the RM over the last three years, says Cory.

“It’s pretty basic maintenance,” Cory says. “Why isn’t it getting done?”

“We got 12 roads from last year to do and 50 new roads (found this year) that need work,” Paul Ross, RM foreman

Ross explains that half of the two km road that connects Ethier Road and the Meridian Road is considered a machinery track, not a true road.

This classification knocks it down the list of priorities for the half of the road that connects to Ethier Road.

However, the other half, which connects to the Meridian Road, is classified as a road and should be properly maintained, Ross says.

“Eventually we are looking to put another culvert in,” Ross says. “We do have a culvert there. It’s just a matter of installing it.”

When that will happen is not certain however as the first priority is the Meridian Road, then the graveling between it and Trudy’s home.

“From their place west (towards the Meridian Road) will be graveled,” Ross says.

The increased rains that have been hammering the province for the last few years have been pushing the limits of the RM.

“We got 12 roads from last year to do and 50 new roads (found this year) that need work,” Ross says.

“It’s not normal.” Ross says. “It’s due to all the wet weather we have been having.”

In the 15 years Ross has been working with the RM, he says that the number of roads in need of serious repair each year has gone up drastically from three or four roads to five or six dozen.

“I know it’s tough for people. We just keep plugging away.”

The Meridian Road is currently under construction and Ross says it will be finished this fall by October or November.

They will begin work, Ross says, on the intersection the Meridian Road and the two km road to Mrs. Wasyliw’s home once the construction reaches the intersection. It should be before the whole road is completed.

Organizations: Rural Municipality, Prince Albert

Geographic location: Meridian Road, Ethier Road, Meridian

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  • Meghan
    September 11, 2012 - 09:08

    I agree that lots of roads in the RM do need work. I live just off the Russ-Stan road south of town and have been stranded in my own driveway on occasion, especially after rain as our road is mostly clay and mud. We have seen improvements though, over the past couple of years, and KUDOS to the RM for being very quick to respond. Usually within a day of heavy rain we have a grater out to smooth out the ruts in the mud and we have been lucky to have a few loads of gravel this year as well. I've just gotten in the habit of making sure I know when the rain is coming and prepare for it.