Muddy clay roads a yearly concern for P.E.I. residents, first responders
'We need someone to look at it and make it right, you know... so I feel safe again'
It's an unpleasant sign of spring on Prince Edward Island: muddy clay roads.
One resident says these days, the Centre Road in St. Ann, P.E.I., is particularly bad. It can be tough to walk along or slick to drive on in a regular vehicle.
Guy Arcoite has lived on the clay road for seven years and said his car has taken a beating since Centre Road was resurfaced in 2016.
I'm a country guy. I've never been afraid of a little dirt for sure. Where I get concerned is for my safety.— Guy Arcoite
He can get up and down in his four-wheel drive, but he's worried that emergency vehicles might not make it.
"I'm a country guy. I've never been afraid of a little dirt for sure," Arcoite said. "Where I get concerned is for my safety."
He said last year a neighbour had an emergency but the fire department had a hard time responding to the call.
Concern for fire chief
"Upon getting there, we realised the road was a little greasy," said Jason Peters, the New Glasgow fire department chief.
"A couple of our own members had gotten in with a four wheel drive first and then kind of phone the trucks ahead and warned us of how greasy the road was. We took one in, it was kind of a treacherous little drive."
The fire department wrote the local MLA to say this road and other area clay roads are a concern.
"If we don't get there or get stuck it doesn't look good for our department and certainly the outcome is not going to be good for whoever we're going to try and reach for the emergency," Peters said. "Of us not getting there or being 10 minutes late."
1,500 km of clay roads across the Island
The Department of Transportation said it maintains approximately 1,500 kilometres of clay roads across the Island.
When the roads dry out in the spring, the department inspects them and improvements are made where required through grading, ditching and the addition of shale or gravel.
"We just never seem to have any improvement," said Brad Trivers, MLA for Rustico-Emerald. "What I want to see is a long-term plan for how we're going to improve our roads, especially our clay roads."
The Department of Transportation said it inspects the Centre Road in St. Ann every spring and will determine where improvements can happen.
Transportation officials said they also work with Island emergency service providers if needed during an emergency situation.
'I am not looking for a road paved of gold'
Arcoite said he has noticed that Centre Road has gotten worse in the last couple of years, with the ruts getting deeper and any shale added doesn't seem to help.
"I am not looking for a road paved of gold," Arcoite said. "All's I want is to be like everybody else on the island here, to make sure that my safety, that an ambulance — if I get sick — that an ambulance can reach me."
Arcoite said gravel would help and that he hopes improvements come soon.
"We need someone to look at it and make it right, you know... so I feel safe again."
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With files from Laura Meader