A concerned driver is calling on the Saskatchewan Government to repair a 42 kilometre stretch of Highway 21 north of Paradise Hill.
Heather Reeve regularly drives to Ministikwan Lake to visit her parents and says she has been going there for vacations and weekends since she was born. In this time she says there has been limited improvements to potholes in the road.
“They fill it, but they over fill it and it becomes a mound and so you have to avoid the mound. So we drive to avoid the mounds and then we have to navigate which is going to be worse, do we hit this pothole or do we hit a mound because sometimes there is no getting around any of them.”
Reeve says at times, the gravel road that stretches the last 15 kilometres of the drive, is in better condition.
“It would be nice to be able to go there and not be on pins and needles and grabbing the wheel with both hands and turning off the radio and telling your kids to be quiet.”
In 2017, Highway 21 was the third ranked worst road in Saskatchewan by CAA’s annual Worst Roads Campaign that has drivers vote for which roads they think are in the poorest conditions.
Senior Communications Consultant with the Ministry of Highways Steve Shaheen says, “we do our normal routine maintenance, [thin membrane surface] roads were built to provide a dust free surface for pasture vehicles, so they don’t necessarily have the engineering structure required to support heavier traffic. So the more traffic and the heavier traffic that goes over it, of course it tends to fail a little bit.”
He adds, “this particular road has between 80 and 200 vehicles per day, to put things in perspective in the City of Lloydminster on Highway 16 Southeast there is about 7800 vehicles per day.”
Last December, Reeve was driving up to her parents property when she says all of her lights in her vehicle went off. She was able to make it safely to her parents house and then brought her car into a mechanic in Lloydminster. Reeve says the mechanic told her that a piece of road or gravel was likely responsible for her wheel sensor in her back wheel being sheared off, which turned off her traction control, ABS and all wheel drive.
“Here I am, a single mom with two children in my car and if I had hit a patch of ice with nothing like that, who knows what could have happened.”
Reeve is hoping the Saskatchewan Government redoes the highway.
“Saskatchewan prides itself on being a tourist province and having beautiful lakes and beautiful forest areas and that area has tons of people going to it. If Saskatchewan is going to take that much pride in their forests and lakes and their tourism, why can’t they take that pride in the road that gets us there?”
However, Shaheen says that no major repairs are scheduled for this highway, only routine maintenance but people can report concerns to their local Ministry of Highways office.
“We need to maintain and rehabilitate existing infrastructure all over the province and we can’t be everywhere at once so we have to set priorities. The ministry prioritizes infrastructure investments based on traffic volumes, economic considerations and certainly maximizing safety.”
As for Reeve, she says she will continue to travel to Ministikwan Lake, regardless of the shape of the highway.
“I’m not going to punish my children by not letting them see their grandparents because of a crappy road. I just have to be really super diligent and really watch out because it’s not their fault the road isn’t being taken care of and it’s not my parents fault.”