See highways for yourselves

This past week, I was called upon to drive into Winnipeg for medical tests.
We left early Friday morning and travelled along Highway 11 to Rainy River, then across northern Minnesota from Baudette to Warroad, and then north on Highway 12 to the Trans-Canada.
The area was under a severe blizzard warning that stretched across southern Manitoba, northern Minnesota, and Northwestern Ontario. Listening to the radio, one would have thought twice about travelling but medical tests necessitated travel.
Driving in darkness, the driving snow made following the road difficult from the Fort to Rainy River. It was difficult to make out what the condition of the road surface was like and speed was greatly reduced.
Now I’ll admit I drive a four-wheel drive SUV that has winter tires with studs all around, and that should provide me with some comfort for winter driving. My wife and I also had allotted plenty of time to reach the hospital for the tests.
With daylight dawning as we reached Rainy River, we could tell that the road was snow-packed and the blizzard warnings had us feeling good about our early start.
As we cleared U.S. Customs, the highway from Baudette to Warroad was bare. Even north to the Canadian border crossing at Middleboro, the highway was bare.
As well, Highway 12 from Middleboro to the Trans-Canada was bare in most sections, except where the highway was protected on both sides by trees. But for the most part, the snow was wind-swept from the highway and the road was bare.
Even the Trans-Canada was clear of snow going into Winnipeg.
I will admit that as the snow piled up in Winnipeg over the course of the afternoon, most of the major routes were less-than-stellar to drive. Needless to say, I was pleased that my vehicle was in all-wheel drive and that the winter tires could grip the road well.
Coming home Saturday, we expected the roads to be in poorer shape than Friday. However, we were pleasantly surprised that the roads that led south from Winnipeg were 95 percent bare while Highway 11 from Warroad to Baudette was totally bare.
Highway 11 from Rainy River to Fort Frances, however, was hard-packed with snow and slightly rutted.
One might assume that Manitoba, Minnesota, and Ontario—all facing the same blizzard—all would have roads in the same condition after the conclusion of the storm and the clean-up that followed in the next 10 hours.
It ain’t so!
The province has declared that the clean-up of its highways meet different standards across the province. It is clear to me that the farther one is from the centre of the universe (Queen’s Park), the poorer the condition of the highways becomes.
Local MPP Sarah Campbell has invited the premier of the province to travel our highways. Kathleen Wynne knows better than to take her life into her own hands at the wheel of a vehicle in winter to travel Rainy River District highways.
Glen Murray, the former mayor of Winnipeg who is now Ontario’s minister of transportation, knows how poor Manitoba highways can be in winter blizzards. But he also understands that he should not travel in Northwestern Ontario in winter.
It is a shame that residents in this part of Ontario have to risk driving on inferior-maintained roads.
We realize that the company maintaining our highways merely is following provincial policy. But when that policy is so flawed, maybe it is time for both the premier and the minister of transportation to leave Queen’s Park and discover how poor their political decision on highway maintenance is.
I welcome both to Rainy River district—an area that Premier Wynne has admitted she has never been to.

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