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Calls to fix Ditch Road getting louder

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Ditch Road has truly come by its name quite honestly, for if you ask local Valley residents who drive on it, they will tell you it’s either similar to driving in the ditch or it may be safer to do so. Recently, local Valley resident Bryan Hulme got tired of deep potholes, patches of asphalt that were cracked and lying loose on the road, so he tried to get the attention of Swan River MLA Rick Wowchuk by sending an unforgettable message.
Last week Hulme concocted a clown made out of bales with the message “Rick Fix The Road”. Needless to say, it garnered plenty of attention, and not just Wowchuk’s. “I got lots of responses on Facebook, from people who agreed after I put up that clown made of bales and the message to Rick Wowchuk,” said Hulme.
“It’s sad that it took putting up something embarrassing to get any action done. Rick never personally
contacted me but did make a remark on Facebook that it needs to be taken higher up. I feel that he’s the one that needs to be listening because he’s our elected representative for this area. I talked to him last
fall about this issue and he kept telling me he’s trying, but nothing is getting done.
“We’ve got lots of blowouts on Highway 275 west of Swan River and the shoulders are only graded once a year. With the prior NDP government at least the shoulders would get graded twice a year, every spring
and fall, but now it’s seems like we don’t get any service. 
They patch once and awhile which is barely keeping up and Ditch Road keeps deteriorating more and more. It’s getting past the stages where they can upkeep it, it’s now at the stages where it needs a full redo.”
Ditch Road sees its fair share of traffic over the years and is one of the most popular roads into Swan River. The amount of traffic and lack of repairs has added up to create a treacherous stretch of road that has led to people in the area trying to do some repairs on their own to make it passable. 
“It’s kind of the main corridor for people living in Saskatchewan and years ago I had heard that the traffic counts were higher than Highway 83 going south of Benito, so it does get a lot of traffic,” said Hulme. “There’s one lane of traffic that grader hasn’t maintained the gravel close to the shoulder, and the edge of the pavement is so brittle, it keeps pushing out to the ditch. Now there are these holes that are forming
and it keeps pushing out the edge of the pavement out, which created a great big hole and a mound of pavement beside it.
“Not too long ago some farmers pushed these mounds off the road and filled the holes with gravel, just so that a vehicle could safely drive on it. People were driving around the hole and mounds of pavement because it was a real danger.”
There have been reports of vehicles going off Ditch Road and resulted in an accident. 
Hulme recalls an incident that happened three years ago, where a neighbour’s grain truck fell off the edge of the pavement, and when the driver tried to correct, it caused the vehicle to roll. 
“There’s been a fair number of people who have slid off the highway,” said Hulme. “In some places, the shoulder drops anywhere from six to eight inches, so if traffic needs to pull over to make room for a larger vehicle passing in the opposite direction, they run the risk of sliding off the road. There was an incident where a woman slid off the side of the road in the wintertime, and her van spun around and
went into the other side of the ditch. It’s just a matter of time before someone gets seriously hurt.
“The maintenance that has to be done on peoples’ vehicles has been terrible. I’ve done ball joints on 
every vehicle that I own and replaced countless tires on equipment as a result.” Just a few days after
Hulme set up his clown made of bales with a message to Wowchuk, a crew was out to do some patchwork
on Ditch Road.
Wowchuk agreed with Hulme that the condition of the road was a danger and stresses that these issues 
need to be brought forward by constituents so he can get matters resolved. 
“The road has been addressed and lots of patchwork was done this past week,” said Swan River MLA Rick Wowchuk. “It was very unacceptable to see the potholes like that and we thought they were definitely a hazard and dangerous. I really appreciate the fact that constituents bring the dangerous conditions to
my attention.
“If I don’t know about a problem, it’s really difficult for me to take to the Provincial government to be addressed. This is ongoing with Ditch Road, we get many calls and send numerous requests for repairs 
up to the Minister’s office, so that they can dispatch Infrastructure staff to fix it. I generally like to follow up on it. I did receive calls that there was work done on it last week.” 
Even though it was a bit of a comical jab creating a clown with bales to get Wowchuk’s attention, he was a good sport about it.
“Bryan did a little dig, which I found it to be very humorous and I loved it,” said Wowchuk. “He did a good job at getting my attention. One thing I express a lot to my constituents is that they have to also put in concerns to Infrastructure as well because I’m only one voice. I find it much more effective when numerous constituents make calls to the local Infrastructure department or other departments and make efforts to voice their concerns. That carries a lot of weight too and I always welcome that assistance from constituents. 
With all of us working on it, we can get action.” Although recently some more patchwork was done on Ditch Road, Hulme feels it’s nowhere near the level it needs to be. There are still parts where the gravel shoulder is almost six inches lower than the road and no grading has been done. He hopes Wowchuk can
get the road in a safe driving condition before it snows.