Financial limitations, as well as political action, do play a part in the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure’s decisions on what roads will be worked on, according to a MoTI spokesman.
Shawn Haley, MoTI’s operations manager for the south Island, told the board at the Cowichan Valley Regional District at its meeting on Jan. 25 that there’s only so much money to go around for road repairs and upgrades, so initiatives by local politicians to persuade ministry officials to get work done can sometimes have the desired results.
Haley was responding to questions from Ian Morrison, director for Cowichan Lake South/Skutz Falls.
Morrison said he understands ministry officials have to prioritize projects due to financial constraints, but many of the side roads in the area are deteriorating.
He said he is aware that the ministry’s priorities are numbered highways, 80-kilometre per hour roads and some 50-kilometre per hour roads.
“I’m not complaining about the service [in my electoral area], but folks that drive out from the rural communities see things like that stretch from Somenos Road to Highway 1 on Highway 18 and scratch their heads wondering that the road didn’t seem in need of repaving but was repaved,” Morrison said.
“Yet, in the more remote rural areas, I can’t tell you what year the side roads were last touched. Does it require political action to get an initiative that will address rural side roads because I know there just isn’t enough in the kitty to do that?”
Haley said Morrison had just answered his own question.
“Yes, of course going political helps,” he said.
“It is a matter of only having so much money and we have to make it go far and that can be pretty challenging sometimes.”
Haley said the section of repaved road on Highway 18 that Morrison was referring to was the result of the ministry’s planning process as MoTI likes to pair road work that can be done close together to save on transportation costs.
“So when we were working on Highway 1, we decided to do that section of Highway 18 just because it was there and it made sense,” Haley said.
“It ultimately does come down to money unfortunately so I think it would be wise to make it political, but at the same time, 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. We have to be strategic in how we allocate our funds.”
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