© THE GUARDIAN/Steve Sharratt
It may be the wrong lane, but at least it’s passable. Motorists heading to the intermediate school or post office hit the brake lights to avoid heaves and holes along Fraser Street in Montague. The town insists it lacks the funds from the province to maintain secondary roads.
Funding from province doesn’t cover real costs of road repair, says Montague councillor
It's not because they want to, but because sections of some secondary roads are so heaved and buckled it reduces them to a single lane and forces drivers, depending on the direction they are going, to drive on the wrong side of the road.
Even though spring is coming, some of the roads have been like this for some time.
“I deliberately avoid some of the side streets here because I don’t want to wreck my car,” said one resident, eyeballing a particular nasty section of roadway on Fraser Street.
Most of the town roads are in fine shape, but trying to keep up with the list of repairs on secondary laneways is proving so impossible that the municipality has taken a bold and unprecedented step to ask the province take over all street maintenance by next fall.
“The grant we get to maintain secondary streets is far short of the actual costs,’’ according to chief administrative officer Andy Daggett. “So we’ve got to do something about that.”
The town receives a grant of $10,000 per kilometre for the roughly 12 kms of town pavement.
That means there’s about $120,000 annually to look after the streets, but expenses are creeping up almost five per cent a year.
“The funding from the province doesn’t cover the real costs at all,’’ said Coun. John MacFarlane.
Fraser Street, for example, is heavily used because of the intermediate school, and car brakes lights are forever flashing since it’s like a mini roller coaster.
“This might be a good time to turn over the streets because we have to sign a new three-year snow clearing contract next fall and prices are expected to go up by 25 per cent,” said Coun. Jim Bagnall.
Currently the street repairs involve nothing more than patching, and Daggett said the town won’t be able to afford it when road replacement time arrives.
“Given that the new funding formula may or may not be coming in the future, it would save the town money to turn street maintenance over to the province.”