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Worst Roads campaign addresses the poor condition of Manitoba’s roads and calls for future repairs

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CAA Manitoba announced the launch of the CAA Manitoba Worst Roads campaign for 2024, now in its 13th successful year.

CAA Manitoba has announced the launch of the 2024 Worst Roads campaign, now in its 13th year of success. With the rising cost of living, investing in roads and supporting infrastructure is more important than ever, and CAA Manitoba has worked tirelessly to support citizens' need for safe and efficient transportation options.

While Brandon ranks first, 18th Street is the worst street in Manitoba. This street has been in the top ten for the past few years, but this year it reached the number one spot for the first time.

“What we've seen over the years is that we first noticed it in 2022, the next year it climbed a few spots, the year after that a few more, and then today it's climbed to number one,” explained Ewald Friesen, government and community relations manager at CAA Manitoba. “Ultimately, our campaign is to gain insight into which roads in Manitoba are in dire need of attention and road repairs.”

Second and third place were also taken by familiar names from the top 10 list – Leila Avenue in Winnipeg and Provincial Road 307 in Whiteshell. Voter feedback indicated that the constant potholes on Leila Avenue have caused significant damage to numerous vehicles, resulting in significant repair costs for local motorists. Concerns were also raised about Provincial Road 307 due to inadequate pedestrian infrastructure and poor road maintenance.

The main reasons for the nomination of roads in the top ten are potholes, cracks, poor maintenance and crumbling curbs. These problems not only cause inconvenience to drivers but also pose safety risks. Potholes and cracks can cause damage to vehicles, while poor maintenance and crumbling curbs can increase the risk of accidents. It is important that authorities address these problems to ensure the safety and efficiency of the road network.

In addition to the top 10, the campaign also includes a 'regional list', where northern communities were closely consulted and produced a regional top 5, with Thompson taking the top two spots, including Westwood Drive (number 1) and Haze Road (number 2).

The other three below are Provincial Road 280 in Gilliam, Bracken Street in Flin Flon and Larose Avenue in The Pas.

According to a recent CAA survey, 78 percent of Manitoba residents are dissatisfied with road maintenance efforts, but 88 percent are willing to accept inconvenience caused by construction if the road is repaired and in good condition.

Friesen expressed his deep concern for Manitoba residents and his goals in addressing these issues: “We know that the quality of roads is very important to residents of northern or rural communities. They are your connection to the world, they make the difference between getting to the hospital, getting something to eat or visiting your relatives. That's one of the reasons we run this campaign every year, because we want to give a voice to those who feel they have no control over the condition of the roads they travel on every day.”

“We did a survey a while ago and asked people what they thought about the roads. 96% of respondents said they were very concerned. Most of these people don't take the concerns seriously, they can do something about it,” Friesen explained. “So our campaign is aimed at the CAA, who will take it to the Manitoba legislature and get the information out there so the government gets the message.”

There have been many success stories in the past where the campaign has brought about significant changes to improve road conditions. Highway 75 was once in desperate need of attention and consistently made the top 10 and received a $61 million investment for repurposing. St. James was in the top 10 for many years until the campaign brought the need to light and it was taken off the list after significant road repairs.

“We know this campaign works, but we can’t do it without the help of Manitoba residents and their support,” Friesen said.

Another survey last January found that 54% of Manitoba residents said their car had been damaged due to bad roads. However, of those 54%, 70% did not report a claim to MPI, but simply paid for the repairs out of their own pocket. “That leaves the most important question: 'How much did that cost you?'” Friesen added. The average cost of roads to Manitoba residents is $962.

The provincial budget recently announced by Wab Kinew increased investment in road construction by $540 million. “We have advocated for road infrastructure year after year with the provincial government and the municipality and encourage citizens to use our data and top ten lists in their community to advocate for and prioritize road repair,” Friesen explained.

This year the campaign has seen a lot of engagement, with 71 of the 137 provincial municipalities participating and nominating 486 different roads. This shows the people who travel these roads every day that even the most rural roads are given attention and care, and shows that no one is forgotten.

“Manitobans' frustration with the condition of our roads is clear,” Friesen concluded. “We know they voice their concerns to neighbours, friends or mechanics. This campaign helps raise awareness among decision makers and provides valuable insight into our preferences when prioritising road repairs and maintenance.”

The CAA's 2024 Manitoba Worst Roads campaign has highlighted the urgent need for road maintenance and repair across the province. Thanks to the unwavering support of Manitobans and the tireless efforts of organizations like the CAA, there is hope for significant improvements in road conditions. The campaign's success in raising awareness and influencing government action demonstrates the importance of collective voices in addressing key infrastructure issues. Looking forward, it is imperative that citizens, government agencies and policymakers work together to ensure safe and efficient travel for all road users in Manitoba.

~Matthias J. Johnson is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter for the Thompson Citizen. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Canadian government.