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Letter: We need to change how our roads are being built

Reader predicts the return of gravel roads is something doesn't happen

Roads, roads, roads. I challenge any Greater Sudburian with a driver’s licence to name a dozen roads in this city that don’t require some type of repair. 

It’s a difficult thing to do; for most of you, it will be almost impossible. Yet every year we continually face the onslaught of potholes that repeatedly find new vehicles to damage. 

It’s like a plague. 

Not surprisingly, you will also find at this time of year the belligerent individuals that feel the need to scream and yell at the road repair crews, like it’s their fault the potholes annually return. 


The frustration, the fright and the stress that we all feel when we pull out of our driveways has to be focused in the right direction; Tom Davies Square.

As taxpayers, we need to realize what lies ahead for us and just how bad things are going to get. You need to know that our mayor’s motion at a finance meeting for another $10 million on road repair isn’t the answer. It’s similar to having the smallest Band-aid covering a severe cut. It’s not going to do a thing. 

To fix this, there needs to be a complete overhaul on the tendering process for road work, on how the work is actually done and finally holding those that do the work, accountable.

First of all, the tenders for upcoming roadwork has to be sent out much earlier than they are now, possibly every January or before the end of the previous year. 

Regardless of what the “best accounting practices” are for budgeting, the current system simply starts too late in the year. By making this small change, we’ll have the work approved for an earlier start to construction in the year. Maybe, just maybe we won’t see these same companies fighting to get the “first layer” of pavement down before the snow returns that fall.

Secondly, there needs to be an overhaul on how these roads are being built, starting with the engineering. If we are going to spend the money, let’s do it right. 

When I’ve spoken to many of the staff around the city, I’m told that the life expectancy on a newly rebuilt road is approximately 20 years. Unfortunately some don’t seem to last eight months. 

I was the only mayoral candidate in 2018 that, from the onset of the election, put roads (not an arena/casino) as the No. 1 priority for this city. 

Sure, other candidates came out with ideas on how to repair our roads, but I was the only one that offered some form of viable solution moving forward on building them. I continually spoke about Superpave as one alternative to building/rebuilding these streets as opposed to the 1939 Marshal Mix. 

But to be honest, even Superpave might be flawed if the city’s engineers don’t start changing the design and methodology to meet the demands of Northern Ontario. We need it done right the first time.

Finally, we need to hold the companies that we hire accountable for the product they give us. If mediocre work becomes a re-occurring issue with the same company, then we don’t rehire. If Greater Sudbury isn’t a satisfied customer, then the bill doesn’t get paid.

If our elected officials and city engineers don’t start changing how our roads are being built now, we as citizens will have a rude awakening in years to come. I honestly feel it might actually be too late. The devastation and breakdown of our inferior roadways is going to get so expensive to repair, that some of our city’s side roads will no longer be paved as we know now. 

I predict that between 2023 and 2028 you will see the return of gravel being used in some areas instead of asphalt. The cost for the upkeep of these types of roads is much lower. If rain, snow or frost is an issue, the city can merely re-grade the road and make it driveable again. It won’t need to be shut down for months. Bylaws will need to be amended to allow for this change, but make no mistake; this is exactly where we are headed. 

Gravel roads will start in the more remote areas of Greater Sudbury with lack of money as the excuse for the change, but it will happen. Main thoroughfares and arteries will continue to be paved, but more and more subdivisions will turn to gravel. It’s not what anybody wants, but where things at TDS are headed, and it’s going to be the only thing the city, you and I, can afford.

Jeff Huska