Hitting the brakes: Incumbent mayor says 'no miracle solution' for fixing roads in Greater Sudbury
Candidates across the board say state of roads is No. 1 issue in the city
The City of Greater Sudbury's budget for road construction and repair in 2018 exceeds $100 million dollars
But many candidates running ahead of the Oct. 22 municipal election still don't believe that's enough — or at least, that they could do a better job.
Some are saying they'd examine new materials and techniques to patch potholes or pave over main roads.
One of the 11 mayoral candidates in the running, Dan Melanson, notes the city has identified it would have to spend about $1.9 billion to bring its existing infrastructure up to par.
He insists there are better patching products on the market, and says he'd use long-term debt to immediately fix crumbling roads.
He says the city "has gone the other way" by using debt to finance big projects like the city's new arena or performing arts centre.
"I'd rather spend a couple bucks more on a quality product and get a good result that lasts," said Melanson.
"Fixing a pothole as far as I'm concerned is you put the material in the hole, and it stays in the hole. That's repaired, and there is material out there that's specially formulated to be used in wet and cool situations that will last for years."
In addition to the $103.4 million budgeted for road construction this year, the city's budget for pothole repairs was just over $2.8 million.
Fellow mayoral candidate Jeff Huska says he'd organize a conference to bring industry producers to town within his first year, if elected.
"Bring these companies in and they talk about their mixture, or their product of asphalt, and even in some places, concrete," said Huska. "We should have that here. I don't think Sudbury's alone in having a problem with our roads — I just think we're the worst around."
But incumbent mayor Brian Bigger shot those down as "miracle solutions."
"I would encourage anyone who has ideas to contact staff," said Bigger. "If there are better materials, I'd certainly like to hear about them and see them."
He points out his administration spent around $300 million on road and pothole repairs over his four years as mayor.
"That's more than double what the previous council spent," notes Bigger. "I believe that in many areas, the roads are significantly better."
According to the city, there's around $35 million reserved annually for additional road construction over the next four years.
"The thing is we have 3,600 kilometres and we're not going to fix all those roads in two or three years, in a term," said Bigger. "We need to continue on a solid program and continue investing significant dollars in the roads to make them better."