For the last few years CAA Saskatchewan has run a spring campaign that enables Saskatchewan motorists to vote on the province’s “worst road”. According to its guidelines, a road qualifies as a “worst” if it is in “general disrepair with potholes, cracks, etc, has poor signage or congestion or is too narrow for motorists, pedestrians and cyclists to share safely”. At the end of the voting period, CAA Sask says, the results are sent to the appropriate government body in the hope that steps will be taken to improve the road and enhance driver safety.
Voting in the 2013 campaign had been scheduled to end today, but apparently the deadline has been extended until April 25. As of April 16, Hwy 123 near Cumberland House was the top vote getter for worst road. It was followed by Hwy 42 at Dinsmore, Hwy 908 at Ile a la Crosse, Hwy 22 at Earl Grey, Hwy 18 at Beaubier, Pasture Road at Rosetown, Hwy 18 at Lake Alma, Hwy 35 at Love, Hwy 43 at Gravelbourg and in tenth place there was a two-way tie between Hwy 155 at La Loche and Hwy 51 at Major.
I’ve never actually walked, cycled or driven on any of these roads so I can’t attest to their condition. But presumably voters know what they’re talking about. One point I’d like to make now, though, is that when CBC Saskatchewan was pimping this contest last year one reporter said there was something like 250,000 km of roads in Saskatchewan. That includes highways, city streets, grid roads, paved and unpaved roads in towns and villages, etc.
If you do the math, that means there’s roughly one kilometer of road in Saskatchewan for every four residents (not taxpayers, residents). Throw in extremely challenging soil conditions in a good chunk of the province (be it clay soil in the south or permafrost in the north) plus our generally insane climate with prolonged thaw-freeze cycles in the spring and fall, and I couldn’t even begin to imagine how many billions of dollars we’d have to spend to (i) bring our vast road network up to snuff and (ii) do all the maintenance and repairs necessary year to year to keep our perpetually crumbling roads in reasonable condition.
In essence, we’d have another black hole of government spending to join the black hole of health care (pictured above) that we already endure today. So vote away all you motorists out there.