Sask. government called upon to fix crumbling Highway 9 near Hudson Bay

·3 min read
Kelly Stonehouse said the stretch of road is full of lumps, ruts, humps and holes that make navigating it tiresome and potentially dangerous.  (Submitted by Kelly Stonehouse - image credit)
Kelly Stonehouse said the stretch of road is full of lumps, ruts, humps and holes that make navigating it tiresome and potentially dangerous. (Submitted by Kelly Stonehouse - image credit)

The provincial government is neglecting the highway heading into Hudson Bay, Sask., from the south, according to Kelly Stonehouse.

"I've never seen ruts in asphalt before and we've got them. We've got lumps, we've got ruts, we've got humps, we've got holes, we've got cracks, we've got crumbling," said Stonehouse, who lives in Hudson Bay and is a town council member.

Stonehouse wants the provincial Ministry of Highways to overhaul Highway 9 near the community. It's no secret the ramshackle road needs more than a simple tune up.

The stretch of road made CAA Saskatchewan's infamous list of "Top Ten Worst Roads" this year. It clinched the third spot in 2021, moving up from its fifth place spot in 2018.

A spokesperson for the provincial Ministry of Highways said "routine maintenance was completed this summer on this section of Highway 9 to repair cracks, potholes and surface breaks. Spot sealing was also completed."

Stonehouse said routine maintenance is all well and good, but it doesn't last.

"This isn't a shot at our local guys at the Highways Department. They're doing the best they can," he said. "But at this point, they're like shooting BBs at a tank.… they don't have the big equipment to strip it down and actually give it the work it needs. All they can do is just patch the holes until the next six semis pull it back up."

The road is frequented by heavy logging trucks driving through the east-central town in Saskatchewan.

Stonehouse said the government won't offer up concrete answers about when serious road work might begin. Furthermore, it doesn't appear to be a priority.

"It's not even just that we're not getting it fixed today, as far as I know, there's no plan to fix it in the next few years."

The Ministry of Highways spokesperson confirmed that the government has no plans to accelerate major upgrades to the road unless they secure a "potential partnership" for the work.

Stonehouse and other locals reached out to the ministry earlier this year with their concerns. He wants Highways Minister Fred Bradshaw — who is also the MLA for the area — to hear their concerns directly.

"What we get is generic letters ... 'we're working on it' or 'I don't have an answer for you,'" he said. "A lot of people in town, they just want something that makes it seem like the Sask. Party and Mr. Bradshaw are actually trying to help with this problem."

The spokesperson said the ministry will continue to "monitor" this road on a regular basis. They said roadways are prioritized for construction based on several factors, including the quality of the roadway as well as daily traffic counts.

Submitted by Kelly Stonehouse
Submitted by Kelly Stonehouse

Stonehouse expects the highway to deteriorate further without a major fix. He said it's already affecting locals and people who could be coming in to support the economy.

"There's a lady — luckily, she works at the local tire shop — she hit one of those holes so bad it broke her suspension in her front end. There's another lady in town who hit one of those holes, it actually bent her rim and blew out her back windshield."

The Ministry of Highways has pointed residents to potential financial compensation for damage, but Stonehouse said it doesn't account for ongoing wear.

Stonehouse worries it will hurt the area's tourism industry by keeping people out — or potentially injure others who do make the trip.

"Eventually somebody's going to get hurt on that road."

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