After years of potholes and poor maintenance, people who have to drive Highway 34 on a daily basis have had enough.
Whether you're driving from Highways 1 to 2, 2 to 23, or 23 to 34, it's rough out there. That's the word of the Economic Development Officer for the RM of Victoria, Craig Soldier who says it's a regular conversation topic for the people of each community nearby. Soldier notes, a few years ago, one of the Hockey Academy buses was heading out west for a weekend of games. Between Swan Lake and Pilot Mound, they had a severe mechanical failure due to the quality of the Highway. The bus had students in it at the time.
He notes it affects truckers, tourism, and regular traffic, too.
"We did a petition back in January. We got 996 signatures and it was submitted to the province," says Soldier. "The NDP leader and the Liberal leader were also presented with that, to do something about (Highway) 34 for us."
Susan Peterson of The Sentinel paper in Pilot Mound spearheaded the petition. Soldier knows the local employees in the highway department do not have much control on how the highway is actually maintained as they are controlled by a budget.
Soldier says they feel ignored by the government as this has been an issue for a long time. Highway 34 has been featured during CAA Manitoba's Worst Roads contest every year, and peaked at #2 overall so far this year. Soldier wants to see the road finish #1 so maybe the road can be fixed, and people won't have to have their vehicles fixed up constantly.
"We've got a bridge north of Holland here that crosses the Assiniboine (River). It's been one lane for I can't remember how many years," says Soldier. "It's got stoplights. Very rarely you see a stoplight in the middle of nowhere in Manitoba, but because it can't be dual-lane, you have to have stoplights so that you take turns crossing it. Just about half-a-mile south of the bridge, there's a wash out there, where you guys slow down to 50 kilometres per hour. There's a lot of neglect been going on."
You can vote for Highway 34 in the CAA Worst Roads contest here.