Letters to the Editor

Opinion regarding the highway conditions

Eleanor Deckert
Opinion regarding the highway conditions

Some call it “The Transition.” I call it “The Line.”

Those first 20 km south of Avola along Highway 5 are so nasty so often. Lakes District Maintenance stops. Argo begins. The line is clear to see. Compact, slippery, broken layers, lack of sand. Suddenly – Clear. Pavement. And I'm not the only one who thinks so.

I just heard it again: “Avola to Valemount is the worst highway in the Province.” The truck drivers on the scanner have very strong opinions about the highway conditions. “Not too bad after you pass 'The Transition' south of Ivy Creek”... “No worries from 'The Line' to the coast” ... “You just have to get past 'The Zone.'”

They ask each other, encourage each other, warn each other. “Another jackknife on Messiter Summit.” They have to make deadlines. They need to keep driving in order to feed their families.

I don't have to go out on this piece of highway. In fact, after living here for 40 winters, I have decided to just plain stay home. I am so stressed about those first 20 km. I look at the highway cameras. I look at the weather forecast. I listen to the truckers. I have had to cancel commitments so many times. It is so discouraging and disappointing and depressing. I only want to be able to go to Clearwater once a week.

I quit choir and didn't go to any Christmas events. I can't go to church or volunteer with the children at school. My gym membership and contact with friends, participation in the Wells Gray Seniors Book Club, Writing Club, Arts Council meetings, and other classes, clubs, events and invitations have all been crossed off my calendar. I wanted to go to the Birch Leg annual cross-country ski event. Nope. It's not worth the risk. I have cancelled appointments with the doctor (I don't have test results) (I am five months late for a necessary mammogram), dentist (I am overdue for a significant repair), and hairdresser (not fun to look in the mirror).

My husband and I have only been to Clearwater for groceries twice since December 2nd.

I do not know what the problem is: Machinery that is broken down? Not enough employees? Disinterest in this end of the route? Not enough funds? “Saving money” using less material, time and maintenance? Is there a minimum standard? Is it enough? Can it be re-stated? Is it acceptable to only sand the curves? The cars in the ditch are the answer. Is it acceptable for the walkways on the highway bridges to be left uncleared?

I cannot possibly weigh the factors. But, I certainly hope that someone will look into this specific area's standards.

It is unthinkable for me to live in this extreme isolation just because the first 20 km of winter highway are so often so dangerous.

Who can make improvements?

Sincerely,

Eleanor Deckert, Avola