The regional director for rural Kaslo and the Lardeau Valley isn’t surprised Highway 31 has been named one of the province’s worst roads in a survey by BCAA.
“It is in need particularly north of Kaslo of being repaved and widened,” Andy Shadrack says. “There are places where you can’t get a school bus and a logging truck by each other.”
The highway, which stretches from Balfour to Galena Bay, received 30 votes in the poll conducted in May, ranking it 20th in the list.
The portion between Gerrard and Marblehead is gravel but level. From Gerrard to Trout Lake, it’s a winding logging road with many switchbacks. Voters also cited a lack of bike lanes, while Shadrack says logging truck drivers tell him they drive down the middle of the road to avoid losing their loads.
“If you’re going to declare a road a highway, is there not a standard?” he asks. “If the province has money to waste outside Nelson [on a passing lane] — and I emphasize the word ‘waste’ — then they should at least bring other roads in the region up to standard.”
Shadrack and his predecessor, Larry Greenlaw, have both lobbied for improvements for years. Shadrack says he doesn’t blame local Ministry of Highways staff, but believes responsibility lies with bureaucrats in Victoria.
In particular, he says the stretch from Lost Ledge to Meadow Creek needs new pavement. There’s also a “particularly dangerous spot” near Mirror Lake.
“If you ever try to cycle between Kaslo and Mirror Lake, there’s a place you basically get knocked off your bike,” Shadrack says.
He adds the road south of Kaslo is in “pretty good shape” compared to the north of it.
“I understand there are huge challenges. The road is sliding and the base underneath was never built for the weight of trucks upon it. But if you’re going to call a road a highway, build it to standard and maintain it.”
Shadrack says the fact the road was included on BCAA’s list provides him with more ammunition, but he’s not optimistic about a quick fix.
This story will appear in the West Kootenay Advertiser on Friday.