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Bracebridge road named one of Ontario's worst

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The Canadian Automobile Association (CAA) has declared Fraserburg Road in Bracebridge one of the worst in Ontario.

The annual list is voted on by the public and is divided by region.

The CAA's website says the campaign involves everyone from joggers to cyclists to truck drivers voting on their least favorite roads. “Since 2003, the CAA's annual Worst Roads Campaign has brought about change,” it says. “Many of the roads on Ontario's Worst Roads list have been repaved and repaired, and more are on the way.”

Muskoka is part of the Central Region, with Fraserburg ranking third behind Huronia Rd. in Barrie and Laclie St. in Orillia, but ahead of Essa Rd. and Victoria St., both in Barrie.

An overall list combines all regions and lists the 10 worst roads in all of Ontario. Laclie, at number 10, is the only road from the Central Region listed.

James Steele, Muskoka District Commissioner of Engineering and Public Works, says it's troubling to see a local road on the list, but he also expresses gratitude to those who voted for Fraserburg. “It's a way to make sure we don't miss anything,” he says.

He says the district has a road management plan that guided it last year when it spent about $35 million to repair the roads it oversees. Steele explains that the plan uses data, including feedback from the community, to determine which roads need to be repaired first. “You want to get the most bang for your buck,” he adds. Steele explains that the most heavily used roads are usually repaired first, and low-traffic roads aren't tackled until the major arteries are repaired.

However, he says the county council will discuss a plan later this year aimed at paying more attention to the county's less-used roads.

Additionally, Steele says another guide is being worked on that will use the road condition index (PCI) as one of the key data points. He explains that the county will work to have more roads with a PCI of 55 or higher. “That means they're in serviceable condition,” Steele continues. “It's not going to be some kind of graded airport runway. It's essentially going to be in a condition that maybe satisfies more people.”

He adds that the assessment process will extend to all county roads and will use artificial intelligence to provide an objective perspective.

Steele expects the plan to be discussed in council before the end of the year.