Please help our roads

Connecting the Dots

Torrential rain has ruined roads in its path, but throughout Manitoba other roads are also in terrible condition. Now, municipalities, residents and businesses are going to need Disaster Financial Assistance to get on their feet.

Manitoba’s government has announced road renovations on Hwy 1 in the Virden area and recently also resurfacing plans for Hwy 1 from Oak Lake and eastward. That is needed. But what about the network of infrastructure throughout the southwest?

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A recent road trip to deliver graduation edition newspapers for Reston through to Souris revealed road after road with broken out shoulder edges and dangerous potholes. This brought home the fact that it’s not just PR 259 north of Virden – roads are rotten throughout southwest Manitoba.

These roads are becoming dangerous as people dodge the damaged portions.

Sunday evening, June 28 a powerful rainstorm broke the cycle of a dry summer in southwestern Manitoba. Prior to that several wind events also damaged infrastructure. Residents and businesses are working on clean-up and in many cases, it means demolition first.

With COVID-19 restrictions easing for restaurant service, life was just getting back to normal for the Oak River Inn, known for its barbecued steaks, but on Wednesday, July 1, when we stopped in for a steak, owner Richard English shook his head. No service.

Wind in the fourth week of June damaged a portion of the older two-story hotel’s roof. Sunday’s seven-inch deluge, followed by another three inches (254 mm) later put the restaurant out of order, he told us. But he wasn’t throwing in the towel.

“I hope you come back,” said English, as we headed to our car.

“Oh, we will,” we said, turning away disappointed and troubled for a neighbour who provides a much-needed eatery and social spot in this rural area.

Since then, he’s been working hard repairing his business.

A tour to Rapid City on Canada Day was not possible. The bridge over Hwy 24 was ruined after flooding broke the dam there.

We passed over roads awash with debris and eaten away by overland flooding. Driving to Rivers, vac-trucks were a common sight. Manitoba Infrastructure crew was on the scene, loading rocks into vulnerable points at the bridge and at the dam apron. Engineers were monitoring the dam there, where 12,000cfs poured over the spillway. Rivers reservoir - Lake Wahtopanah - was over four feet higher than the record 2011 flood. It was reported to have risen nine feet from its pre-rain level.

A little later, the bridge in the Little Saskatchewan valley over Hwy 25 at Rivers gave way to the water’s force, closing Hwy 25.

Big problems and potholes – our road system needs an upgrade.




© Virden Empire-Advance