Nova Scotia’s roads are in such rough shape that they’re drawing international attention. Australians Chris and Elayne Clash have logged over 70,000 km in a six-year quest to drive around the world in a homemade buggy. They’ve been through every type of terrain in Asia, Europe and the Middle East. Now they’re heading across Canada, and they can’t believe what driving was like in Nova Scotia. “The roads were up and down and bumpy,” says Chris Clash. “There are better stretches of road in Mongolia.”
While the Clashes have gotten some flak for decrying the province’s road conditions, many Nova Scotians think their criticism is well placed. Vangie Beal started a website dedicated to fixing the roads in Colchester County. She says potholes in rural areas are so common that drivers must constantly swerve to avoid damaging their cars, creating danger for motorists, bikers and pedestrians. “I can’t imagine Nova Scotia’s [roads] getting ranked anything but last,” she says. “I just can’t see another province being worse then this.”
Both Beal and the Clashes think the province can do better, but officials say Nova Scotia’s climate makes the situation almost hopeless. “We get warm air from the Carolinas and freezing air from the Arctic. We get a lot of freeze-thaw cycles here that really give us a beating in the winter,” says Peter Hackett, Nova Scotia’s manager of highway construction services. He understands people’s frustration, and says the province is always trying to make roads better with a program introduced in 2007 that looks at every road and prioritizes repairs. But Beal is still waiting for change. “If they say they’ve been doing this for over a year, I’m not seeing many results,” she says. “But maybe I’m living in an area that’s last on the list.”
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