Residents near Simpson, Sask. ask Ministry for help with dangerous highway
Residents near the community of Simpson, Sask. are expressing concerns about the condition of Highway 15.
Recent rainfall in the area has caused an influx of cars hitting the ditch on the muddy stretch between Highway 2 and Highway 11, and residents are wondering what it will take for the Ministry of Highways and Infrastructure to step in.
“Unfortunately, it’s not going to get fixed,” said resident Alex Gill. “Not until someone gets killed.”
Gill said the community fears the day an emergency arises that requires first responders.
“How would they ever get to someone’s farm or out to a field to help someone?” he said.
School bus driver Helena Martins said she used to drive this road with children, but had to change course to ensure their safety.
“I wasn’t able to make it up the hills anymore,” said Martins. “My bus was slipping and sliding all over the road.”
In 2011, the Ministry of Highways and Infrastructure announced an initiative to develop a high clearance corridor from Melville to the Alberta border. The purpose was to create a convenient road for large industrial equipment to travel.
While there were originally plans to pave the road, residents say the plans fell through. The Ministry says the plans fell through because of funding.
“There was about thirteen kilometers just east of Highway 11 that was completed around 2013,” Doug Wakabayashi, Executive Director of Communications and Customer Service for the Ministry of Highways and Infrastructure said. “Unfortunately that was about the time that there was a very significant change in the province’s fiscal position, so that project was deferred.”
In order to pave the necessary stretch from Highway 2 to Highway 11, Wakabayashi said the total cost would be more than $50 million.
“It’s difficult to justify that significant of an investment when you have to compare that project with other needs across the provincial highway system,” he said.
For locals, the justification is that they don’t feel safe driving to or from their homes.
“What we’re doing trying to make it through, I’m just not safe,” Martins said. “Why do we need to go to the point where we are actually off the road or my bus is flipped on its side? Do we need to do that? I don’t think so.”