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Editorial: Be the squeaky wheel for road work priority

Some roads start to look as if there are more potholes than pavement
In order to become a road work priority, you need to be a squeaky wheel, a Ministry of Transportation representative told the Cowichan Valley Regional District recently. (Black Press photo)

Be the squeaky wheel.

That’s basically what a representative from the provincial Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure told the Cowichan Valley Regional District directors recently about how to get road repairs done.

This is the time of year when roads start to look really ragged, with winter’s snow, ice, rain and freeze-thaw cycles taking bites out of the pavement that are only made worse by continued traffic wear and things like snow plows.

Some roads start to look as if there are more potholes than pavement.

There’s no doubt this can be hard on vehicles, and thus expensive for owners. Everything from tires to rims to axles and suspension can be affected by bad road. Especially if you have no choice but to drive on it all the time.

Then there’s the issue for pedestrians and cyclists of drivers swinging into designated walking and cycling lanes on roadsides to try to avoid the chewed up portions of the pavement.

(As an aside, it would be great if workers didn’t artificially create potholes when they put in services and drainage by placing them so far below the rest of the road grade. It’s bad enough when you’re bumping along in a car, but imagine what a genuine hazard these are to cyclists. But that’s another issue.)

In some cases roads in the Cowichan Valley are under the jurisdiction of a municipality, and they are the ones responsible for upkeep. But in many cases roads fall strictly under provincial jurisdiction, and the ministry spokesperson who addressed the CVRD said that there’s only so much money to go around, and often a road’s condition isn’t enough to push it to the top of the list.

Lobbying for particular projects, loudly, can and does make a difference. We remember a number of years ago when Phipps Road (the road to Dinter Nursery) was in deplorable condition, and stayed that way for several years. These kinds of small side roads, even one with a bustling business creating lots of traffic on it, can definitely fall through the cracks, until enough of a stink is made.

As the MoTI spokesperson said, “…if we’re talking about a rural side road that, say, has 12 people living on it, we’re not going to spend millions of dollars there.” How many road in the Cowichan Valley fit that description to a ‘t’?

All that we can do, it seems, is to contact our provincial reps, contact MoTI directly and frequently, and contact our local CVRD directors to make sure they are making a fuss on our behalf.

If they hear it enough, they’ll at least know the name of your street.