In any given spring, Manitoba highways take a beating and this year is no exception. While it may be hard to identify which road is actually the worst, people that drive on Highway 240 between Portage la Prairie and St. Claude each day could make a good case for that this piece of highway.
For most of 2023, ice, snow, and poor visibility have been common problems on that stretch of road. It is often one of the last to see a snow plow. Now that spring is here, those problems have been replaced by potholes and crumbling concrete. The potholes are big enough that they have been claiming tires and rims of vehicles that hit them and new ones seem to appear every day. Manitoba highways do have a sign up at St. Claude warning drivers of the rough road ahead but in general, there are no signs warning of the larger potholes as they quickly appear.
Dean Rey has lived in the area for years and says things can get pretty rough every spring, but so far this year seems even worse.
"It's been falling apart since February. Every year it gets worse and worse. A cousin's daughter has cracked two rims. The ruts and potholes can be hard to miss. They say you have to avoid them but if you did you'd have to change lanes and then you have oncoming traffic. Sometimes it's either too late or you're barely crawling in your own lane "
Kayla Pryor, who lives in the St. Claude area, travels that stretch of highway most days for work. The poor conditions have left her with some repair work to be done.
"I've had chunks of the highway thrown at me when meeting another vehicle. They've hit a pothole and pieces of the highway have hit and wrecked my windshield. It's currently out of service right now because of it."
Pryor adds she is always careful and drives slower than the speed limit, but even as someone who knows the highway well, it's not always easy.
"You get used to where they are and where you need to swerve around them. But then all of a sudden there's a new one. You're going home that day and saying hey, that wasn't there this morning. It literally changes from when I go to work in the morning to when I go home at night. As it warms up in the day, there are new ones that come through the road that quickly"
Spring driving and potholes are nothing new to people in the Central Plains and other stretches of highway that are often in rough shape include the 305 through Long Plain, Highway 34 from Gladstone to Pilot Mound and Highway 26 through Poplar Point. The problem with mentioning any though is that someone will always have one or two more to add to the list.