West Enders furious with road conditions

WESTERN MANITOULIN—Western Manitoulin residents are furious and say they are taking their lives in their hands and risking damage to their vehicles travelling on Highway 540 due to the recent resurfacing of the highway by the contractor for the Ministry of Transportation (MTO).

“We’re just being treated like third class citizens here on the West End,” stated Morley Runnalls of Evansville. “From basically the police station corner just outside of Gore Bay right through to Meldrum Bay,the roads are a mess—we are being treated like third class citizens.”

“I was behind a New North Fuels truck the other day and it was like going through a blizzard because of all the dust. I had to stop because I couldn’t see the vehicle in front of me,” said Mr. Runnalls.

“I’ve never seen such a mess,” stated Burpee-Mills Councillor Jeff Middleton. “They just did the resurfacing and there are already a number of spots that have been ripped up and packed down again with chip and tar. It’s a disgrace. It’s just junk they’ve put down. I said to council, ‘remember about three to five years ago, the last time they paved the roads and we had to put up with this crap for the next two years?’ It isn’t safe, especially for people walking along the road and I’m afraid someone is going to get hit because no one can see through the dust.”

“Good clear quality stone aggregate lasts longer than this crap and I heard the MTO got ticked off the last time we raised concerns with the roads,” said Mr. Middleton. “Now it looks like they put the same damn thing down again or something worse. I took one day off to wash my house because it was filthy and shortly after I was done the house was filthy again. I’m even finding stones halfway up my driveway from the highway.”

“They used the worse stuff they could get,” stated Morley Runnalls, a resident of Evansville, last week. “One of the stones that flew off the road after a driver went by landed on my front lawn. It was the size of my fist.”

“You can see where potholes have started or are going to be all along Indian Point Hill,” continued Mr. Runnalls. “It is going to be a death trap in the winter when they fill up with snow and water and then freeze over.” He pointed out, “We’ve already had one tire destroyed on the highway because of the materials they are using; it cost us $180 to replace the tire.”

“On one of the first days they carried out resurfacing the highway road, I had a doctors appointment at 9 am in Gore Bay,” said Harry Verner of Elizabeth Bay. “It was just impossible to travel on the highway because the road was so dusty—you couldn’t see anything. I had to travel on Bell Road and Poplar Road to get back on the highway into Gore Bay.”

“It was so dangerous and dusty I couldn’t even see traffic coming at me,” said Mr. Verner. “Our MP Carol Hughes was in Gore Bay that day for a constituency clinic and I called hoping to talk to her, but she couldn’t meet me, but she called me the next day on this issue. She is really concerned as this is a safety issue.”

“The problem is they have again put down dirty, filthy gravel,” stated Mr. Verner. “Our roads are worse than they were 50 years ago. Not only is it filthy dirty gravel that gets very dusty when it isn’t raining, the materials they use are cutting up tires on vehicles. As we all know, once you are on the highway past Bell Road there are no alternative roads up to Meldrum Bay, there is no other choice, people have to use this highway.”

“In the past I’ve had two vehicles whose windows were broken by flying stones, and the insurance companies can’t understand how roads are paved like this,” said Mr. Verner. “I can’t believe our roads are resurfaced like this, it’s like we’re in the dark ages.”

“I’m lucky because I don’t have to use the roads to get to work, but I’m concerned about all the people that do have to use the highway for this,” said Mr. Verner. “Things are going to get a lot worse because they never fixed the potholes from the last resurfacing.”

“I think there should be a class action lawsuit filed against all those responsible for the roads,” stated Mr. Runnalls. He pointed out Mr. Verner has contacted Algoma-Manitoulin MPP Mike Mantha’s office for forms to file a petition.

“I know people all over the West End of the Island, from here to Meldrum Bay, who want us to send them a copy of the petition when we get it drafted,” concluded Mr. Runnalls.

“To me it’s a disgrace taxpayers’ money is being used for towards something like this resurfacing,” said Mr. Middleton. “It’s the worst I’ve seen. What I’m most concerned about is someone is going to be walking on the side of the road, and someone driving by won’t see them and they are going to get hit.”

Editor’s note: See next week’s Recorder for an additional story on this subject.

Tom Sasvari