TODAY’S RANT: Grumpy wants to see more Structure in Ontario’s Infrastructure

TODAY’S RANT: Grumpy wants to see more Structure in Ontario’s Infrastructure

Bumptity- Bumptity -bump!

If you’ve driven anywhere in Ontario this glorious summer you’ve travelled on the maze we call the Provincial Highway System. These highways and byways can lead you to good times and adventure. But, this year, they may also lead you to the repair shop and despair.

You might recall Grumpy’s description about hitting that huge pothole in Detroit; the one that nearly ate the Clown Car. You’ll remember that there were several vehicles with flat tires along the side of the road that day. It says here that the roads in Michigan would challenge the best of our off-roaders with their jacked-up, Gerry-rigged four wheelers.

“Yee-haw! Let’s give ‘er, Bubba!”

After our recent trip to the Wilson Retreat in Muskoka, I’d say Ontario now rivals Michigan for the worst driving conditions in North America. Our roads are going to pot (holes) as the asphalt crumbles and blacktop surfaces become hazardous minefields.

Bumptity- Bumptity -bump!

When you drive a rinky-dink little Clown Car like we do each ripple in the road is felt like a mountainous speed bump by the passengers inside. The five hour trip to the cottage was like riding in a jet plane through constant turbulence.

“Ladies and Gentleman, this is your Captain, please fasten your seatbelts.”

Grumpy recently installed barf bags in the seat pouches conveniently located in his vehicle. He also advises the wearing of helmets given that a good bump in the road usually results in your melon hitting the roof or the interior light.

Believe me, you don’t want to experience post-concussion syndrome whilst paddling a canoe. Remember what happened to Grumps when he was, “Tipsy in Muskoka”.

And, if you’ve got lower back pain, be prepared for that pain to move even lower because these deteriorating surfaces and the resultant agitation are becoming a big pain in the as-phalt for all of us

Grumpy found this suggestion refreshing, though.

Since there isn’t enough money to fill all the potholes, how about painting the edges red so we can at least dodge them?

—Bill Copeland, Sarasota Journal, Sarasota, Fla., April 22, 1980.

Grumpy likes this idea because he doesn’t have the means to enter the famous Baja 1000 off road race.



He imagines negotiating those brightly painted obstructions in his pimped-up Clown Car. It would be a lot cheaper than travelling down to that Redneck Resort he found in Tennessee.

Nevertheless, you might notice the plethora of wind turbines and solar farms sprouting forth all over the countryside. Apparently our Province has money to burn when it comes to power generation but no funds available for road regeneration.

I don’t think that every time you read your Hydro Bill you long for an electric “Green Energy” SMART car, do you? Imagine the cost of putting that sucker on the road. Grumpy’s home air conditioning unit is now considered a piece of garden sculpture given the fact that running the damn thing brings astronomical hydro charges.

If you are like Grumpy you long for open roads that are smooth, well-marked and traversable.

That, my friends, is getting more difficult in Ontario. Heading to cottage country to get “cooled-off” is now becoming a drive that just plain “ticks you off”.

Did you know this?

From the Canadian Infrastructure Report Card:

The total replacement value of existing roads reported by 86 municipalities, representing a 79,306 km network of (two-lane equivalent) roads, was $82.7 billion in 2010 or $6,300 per capita. Local roads account for almost 40% of this value, while arterials and collectors make up another 38%.

The report also indicates that to completely repair and redo a road comes with a tremendous cost. Here are the estimates covering the rebuild of a one kilometer stretch of road.

HIGHWAY: $1,854,000 per km.

ARTERIAL ROAD: $1,095,000 per km.

The estimated replacement cost of the roads in fair to very poor condition is $91.1 billion, nationally. For the average Canadian household, this amounts to a cost of $7,325.

Say, what? Talk about mortgaging our future!

Is it no wonder that road repair in Ontario does not involve total reconstruction but is more likely to appear as a patchwork quilt of MaGyver-ing?

Maybe wind turbines are a more “bang-for-your-buck” proposition.

The costs for a utility scale wind turbine in 2012 range from about $1.3 million to $2.2 million per MW of nameplate capacity installed. This cost has come down dramatically from what it was just a few years ago.

Build a wind turbine or repair one km of highway? Or, blow over 500 million by cancelling two gas plants. You do the math.

Here are some things about road infrastructure that confound and perplex Grumpy.

Why are many of the back roads receiving attention with new paved surfaces when the main thoroughfares continue to crumble?

On a trip to New Hamburg yesterday we took a low-traffic scenic route that was pristine and freshly paved. Nary had a car passed us by in our one hour journey.

On the other hand, on busy Highway 69/400 South near Barrie last week we hobbled through the same construction zone we hobbled through last summer, which in turn, created congestion and gridlock of major proportions.

What’s with that?

When a road is reconstructed why does it take so freaking long to get the job started/done?

The road crew took about three weeks to get up all the signage, road cones and “LOOK UP!” signs along Highway #3 between Delhi and Simcoe. After another week of “nothingness” they finally started the road work.

At the rate they are moving Grumpy would say this job might get done in 2015. Meanwhile, to avoid delays the back roads are congested and the big trucks now travelling there pound those surfaces into submission. Our back roads will soon become only suitable for off road four-wheeling.

Grumpy found this quote that puts this all in perspective.

The state highway commission spends so much time making detours that they don’t have any time left to work on the roads.

—Dan Valentine, Salt Lake Telegram, Salt Lake City, Utah, Aug. 7, 1952.

Grumpy would add that there is so much signage, cones and brick and bract to put in place that, “they don’t have any time or manpower left to work on the roads.”

Road patching is like treating a degenerative disease with Band-Aids.

Too often patching crews are dispatched to ease the bumps using the application of random acts of paving. The trouble is that you never seem to be able to get two wheels on the smooth spots. You negotiate these roads as if driving through a chicane in the Grand Prix at Monaco. And, after the next winter passes, these paved oasis’s now sit among the next batch of potholes brought on by snow plows, frost heaves and the freeze-thaw cycle.

Maybe, we’ll see more mini projects like this one in Russia. This YouTube video is a hoot. Click the link to see a pothole crew at work.

If it can happen to London Bridge, don’t think it can’t happen in Ontario.

Driving the Phenom to basketball workouts at Brock University has us driving through Cayuga regularly. Every time we travel over that old steel rickety bridge at the Grand River, Grumpy closes his eyes and prays that the darned thing doesn’t crumble into dust.

Grumpy remembers seeing signs five years ago suggesting the bridge would be replaced. Well the job has begun but, like Hwy. #3, it will likely be completed when his grandkids get their driver permits. Ryder and Aubrey are one year old now!

But remember this:

Don’t burn your bridges behind you unless you want to detour when you come back.

—Dallas Morning News, Dallas, Texas, Dec. 8, 1928.

What this all boils down to is that no one is applying any kind of concerted effort into putting structure back into the infrastructure of Ontario. And, Grumpy has no answer for this. He’s too busy trying to figure out how to pay his Hydro bill and put gas in the Clown Car. ($1.32/ L = $5.52/ gal.)

So, while he contemplates some palatable solutions he’ll sooth his angst and his thirst with some Pothole Filler Imperial Stout. And yes, this little drink is brewed in the Pothole Capital of the WorldCANADA!

You can check it out here if you are so inclined:


In closing, Grumpy leaves you with a little bit of Canadian Humour to brighten up your day. Interesting how many of these, “You might live in Canada if . . .” thoughts relate to driving and road conditions.

This is what Jeff Foxworthy (King of the Redneck jokes) had to say about Canadians at his recent appearance at Caesars, Windsor

You may live in Canada. . .

If your local Dairy Queen is closed from September through May,

If someone in a Home Depot store offers you assistance and they don’t work there.

If you’ve worn shorts and a parka at the same time.

If you’ve had a lengthy telephone conversation with someone who dialed a wrong number.

If ‘Vacation’ means going anywhere South of Detroit for the weekend.

If you measure driving distance in hours.

If you know several people who have hit a deer more than once.

If you have switched from ‘heat’ to ‘A/C’ in the same day and back again.

If you can drive 90 km/hr through 2 feet of snow during a raging blizzard without flinching.

If you carry jumper cables in your car, and your wife knows how to use them.

If you design your kid’s Halloween costume to fit over a snowsuit.

If the speed limit on the highway is 80 km, you’re going 95 and everybody is passing you.

If driving is better in the winter because the potholes are filled with snow. (Now there’s an idea!)

If you know all 4 seasons:

Almost winter, winter, still winter, and road construction

If you have more miles on your snow blower than your car or if your snow blower cost more than your car.

If you find -20F degrees ‘a little chilly’.




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