Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Highway 6. Are improvements needed?

I travel the first stretch of this highway a lot, so my curiosity was piqued when I watched the CTV news at 6 tonight. There was a woman interviewed who said, "No one killed on the Highway was inattentive... the accidents were all unavoidable" (paraphrased, but not by much)
What balderdash.
Are improvements needed? Absolutely! Given the amount of truck traffic up that road, the fact that it's in the condition it is should be a major embarrassment for ANY government. The areas north, (approaching Thompson), can be brutal. My son worked at Waskwatum and got to drive that road fairly often. Considering the votes for the NDP up that way, you'd think they'd have something resembling a decent roadway...but then, as the Orange Rod says, "Most voters are stupid" (paraphrased, but not by much).
Back to the news report, the focus was supposed to be between the Perimeter and Warren. It's true that the areas in question are, (or can be), treacherous at times. Just a few weeks ago my 1/2 tons rear end "wiggled" around a corner. That means I was going TOO FAST. Had I lost control, and met the on coming semi, that would NOT have been unavoidable. I should have been doing less than the speed limit... but I wasn't.
That said, the fact that we have few (if any) highways with paved shoulders of any consequence doesn't help. There are a few that have an extra 18"-2' which provide that extra cushion you may need at times, and frankly, those highways are less stressful to drive. Highways in other jurisdictions will sometimes have completely paved shoulders, allowing drivers, (who know how), to pass slower vehicles by virtue of having both the passed vehicle and the oncoming vehicle both being able to move to the right. This would be a big boon on Hwy 6. Again, the drivers have to know how to use the extra width, and I don't have too much faith in a lot of other drivers.
Twinning the highway? Ya... right.
The highway suffers from the same old problem. It's an old road, built next to a rail line and originally went through a number of towns along the way. Some of the "remnants" of the original road are just plain silly. In Woodlands, the road winds around the train station, which is identical to the set up in Lake Francis. Both share the same style station... a ghost. The stations have been long removed, only the sweep west and then back east remain, totally unnecessarily.
The original highway was never planned for 100 km/hr, but no one has really done too much planning to straighten it too much. We've seen some work in Grosse Isle where about $6 million was spent to make the curves around the town more gentle, and really, it's a much nicer drive through there now. In Warren, they added a turn lane where the highway goes off to Westburn (227?) and changed the entry to the town. Dedicated turn lanes are a nice touch, but as a start, people realizing that they are able to travel in the oncoming lane to slow down and negotiate a left turn (providing traffic permits) would help a lot too.
Stupid drivers are the biggest problem... and improving the road continues to play to the lowest common denominator.
Last weekend, an old man with a hat in a Ford 3/4 ton with "FT" plates doing 60 km/h was a hazard... farm trailers, or any other trailer travelling below the speed limit, with drivers never even considering pulling over to allow the long line of vehicles to pass them leads to frustrated drivers passing, there by frustrating the other drivers...
Given the amount of traffic, dedicated passing zones, well signed to keep ALL trailer traffic right would allow passing to be much safer.
The highway needs SO much up grading, all the Dept of Highways can do is throw money at a few kilometers here, and a few kilometers there, just to keep it going. This winter, a few culverts were installed, pushed under the roadway, (it still sunk badly), and this spring in St. Laurent culverts were installed to ensure we didn't have to pump water over the roadway as a result of the overland flooding in that area. (I guess this was a "surprise" job, since it was done in haste with large lights illuminating the area, and a road cut. Good planning... Id' have thought that pumping water through 6" pipes over the road last time we had overland flooding might have sparked an idea in someones head...)
I know that land has been expropriated at the Clarkleigh Rd. intersection, (((about km 90)speaking of kilometer signs... how hard would that be? To set up signs every kilometer to assist in reporting things like livestock on the highway, or a burning car) both of which I've reported, trying to make my position known to the 911 operator), where the curves to make the highway cross the (now missing) rail line, but I'm not hopeful that we'll see that happen anytime soon.
Between the needed drainage for the Shoal Lakes which have inundated Highway 415 and 518 pretty much every year now, and Highway 6 improvements, I bet the entire highway budget could be swallowed up, as well as whatever department drainage ditches are under, (water stewardship?) The Interlake has been long neglected... like everything else.

1 comment:

  1. I don't understand why they have not considered twinning the #6 at least to Lake Manitoba or Ashern. When you consider Highways 7,8 and 59 are all twinned to a certain extend outside of the city limits.

    It's too bad Manitoba is not yet a "have" province. In Alberta, they are currently twinning the #63 (aka the Highway of Death) from Edmonton to Fort McMurray. That has to be the equivalent of Winnipeg to Thompson, or at least to Grand Rapids.