POLITICS

Minister takes trip down lousy highways, promises short-term repairs

04/08/2015 10:41 EDT | Updated 06/08/2015 05:59 EDT
REGINA - Saskatchewan Highways Minister Nancy Heppner has taken a drive down a couple of rural highways and agrees with residents that they're pretty bad.

Heppner says her road trip down Highways 322 and 220 was inspired by complaints and photos that had been shared on social media.

She says she'll be making repairs to the roads a government priority, and says crews will be relocated from other projects in central Saskatchewan to at least level the highways.

However, she cautions that permanent repairs will have to wait until the roads dry out completely.

People who live in the area have called the repair jobs done every year a "Band-Aid fix," saying the roads really need to be rebuilt entirely.

Heppner says the conditions are caused by a combination of factors — heavy truck traffic combined with wet conditions.

Both highways are also part of the 5,000 kilometres of thin membrane system or TMS roads in the province. The minister says it would cost $4.5 billion to replace them all and that is not feasible in this budget.

"We can look at these things into the long term but for this year our concern is to make sure that it's drivable and like I said, have the maintenance done once the roads dry out."

People who live in the area say the pavement has crumbled to the point where it's impassable. The highways have been closed to all but local traffic.

"I pretty much have to drive in the ditch. I have to go completely around the broken pavement," says Marina Ahrendt.

"There's at least two-foot holes in some of the areas, people drive through the same areas which creates really big gouges."

(CJME)