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Where Do They Stand? How can we do a better job of maintaining our roads?

Voting period starts Oct. 15

Voters want to know where the candidates stand on the issues and so does

To that end, we’ve created a new election feature: Where Do They Stand? We picked nine issues that mattered to us, and reached out to the mayoral candidates and invited them to give us their answers.

Each candidate has 250 words or less to stake out their position on each of these issues: the Kingsway Entertainment District (KED); expanded casino gamblinglarge project spending; downtown Sudbury and the urban-rural divide; taxation (everyone’s favourite); roads (always top of mind in Sudbury); the health of our lakes; the state of firefighting in the city, and; transparency, openness and leadership.

We’ll be rolling a new story every weekday, an election issue per day leading up to Election Day.

Today, we’re talking roads — every Sudburian’s favourite topic of complaint. Many complain that the city’s roads deteriorate too quickly and are poorly maintained by the city. Others say with more than 3,600 kilometres worth of road in a city of a little more than 160,000, the city does the best it can with limited tax dollars and little assistance from upper levels of government.

Read on and find out exactly what the candidates think. Now, every candidate was invited to participate, but not all of them chose to do so. Here are the answers from those who did. Rodney NewtonTroy Crowder, and David Popescu did not supply answers.

You can click on each candidate’s name to visit their page on the election website.

This is the question we asked: 

Northern Ontario roads are an issue during every election cycle in every Northern Ontario community. Our climate wreaks havoc on asphalt. Is this a road maintenance problem or a PR problem? Explain your position.

Brian Bigger (incumbent)

I think we need to promote all of the work we are doing with roads. Over the last few years, new road projects have seriously improved. We have added oversight, better technology and if you drive down a road that has been fixed recently – you’ll know.  Look at Lorne Street going towards Copper Cliff if you need an example.  But yes, we’ve almost become an urban legend for our roads, but it is a problem we are addressing and prioritizing. I also know we need to get the word out to show residents the tax dollars being spent under this Council are being watched and applied with greater success.

Cody Cacciotti​​​​​​

The way we approach road maintenance isn’t working.  What we must do is place the entire maintenance structure for our roadways under the microscope. We all understand the geographical and seasonal challenges faced by our city. As mayor, I would be looking for ways to maximize our investments to ensure that maintenance to our existing infrastructure is being done both efficiently and effectively. This would include working with our postsecondary institutions to create, develop and test the best possible materials and techniques.  Only by looking at the entire Roads and Transportation Division would we be able to maximize our budget while investing in a better product and new technology without significant strain on the taxpayer. Taxpayers deserve better and so do their vehicles.

Bill Crumplin

I think the problem is poor road construction in the first place. But I do not think our city engineers need to be told how to fix the roads, they need to be given permission to demand a quality job. I strongly suspect political involvement plays a role where decisions rank quantity of road over quality.

To overcome the ongoing cycle of constantly repairing potholes, we need to be open about the rationale behind the prioritization of road work as we seek quality versus quantity. As Benjamin Franklin is said to have quoted, “The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten.” 

I have spoken to a road quality engineer who worked for a private company that receives city contracts. He told me that his reports regarding shortcomings were often rejected by the company and the shortcomings were not rectified. He was clear to point out that when a city inspector was on site that the company met all the requirements.  So, we might need to have inspectors on site more often.

I would also work with council and the Roads Department to have all new road construction and maintenance include signage.  This signage would be installed at the leading edge of the road work and include the contractor’s name, the contract number, the date of completion and the length of the roadwork completed.  This would allow us all to know who was responsible for each section of road.  

Jeff Huska

Roads are and will continue to be the No. 1 issue I will deal with as Greater Sudbury’s new mayor. It’s not a road maintenance or PR problem, it’s about using a product designed in 1939 that no longer meets the demands of the daily traffic in our city in 2018.

Our current mayor has gone on record stating that this council has “doubled its investment in the roads and infrastructure over our council term.” As a tax-paying citizen that concerns me because I continually hear and see how these are by far the worst our roads have ever been. Who is being held accountable for subpar work especially for the money we are paying? As your mayor, I will make sure contractors and developers are held accountable for the work they do. 

As taxpayers we deserve better. Alternative options to the less than satisfactory methods currently being used, needs to be found in order to bring about longer lasting solutions. Superpave should be used on all major arteries and streets.

We need to redefine the tender process to insure we are fiscally responsible with the tax dollars being spent on roads. I want to implement a grading system on major work performed and hold contractors accountable for their work.

Ron Leclair

Our roads have suffered tremendously, due to poor management of that department and maintenance starting from the bottom up. We must stop wasting money, time and effort in order to save a buck. With today's technologies and the proper equipment and material we should be looking at alternative solutions on how to improve this issue. In addition, we are not the only northern province that endures brutal climates, yet we have the most complained about roads. If repaired properly, we shouldn’t have to revisit this issue for years to come therefore freeing up funding for other important issues. Furthermore, the Northern highways are beautiful roads, so why is there such a problem within the city? This definitely needs to be dealt with.

Dan Melanson

Actually, it’s both. It’s a PR problem because the building and maintaining of roads is not a simple issue. To simply say all we need to do is switch to this asphalt mix or that style of road construction to fix the roads, is simplistic and fosters the bad PR situation that we find ourselves in. 

The reality is our climate is not the only factor in all situations that is to blame for the poor state of the roads. All aspects of road construction and maintenance need to be reviewed while taking into consideration the specific conditions and requirements of each construction site. 

Everything from the original design specifications, geotechnical investigation, soil testing, construction and subsequent ongoing maintenance requirements need to be designed for the specific construction site realities in order to get a long lasting road surface.

Patricia Mills

It’s clear to any driver, cyclist or pedestrian that the city’s current road program is not working. We can’t carry on with the same road program as we’ve had in the past. We need to fix what we have first and fix it right the first time. 

We will review the roads program to see what changes need to be made to be more efficient and effective. We will source out proven techniques, materials and best practices in similar climates. We will subject our work to criteria that we can share with the public and see if it is meeting our needs. 

Bill Sanders

This is a road construction problem. There are new products and standards that we can employ. There are companies who are willing to work at night! We can’t always look at the cheapest proposal. You get what you pay for. Ultimately, we will demand that companies guarantee their work for 10 years.