Published March 28, 2023

Bumpy ride: CAA launches Worst Roads campaign

Barrie's capital plan includes $6.5 million for the Road Resurfacing Program for 2023
Bell Farm Road tops CAA's list of Worst Roads in the Barrie-area
Bell Farm Road tops CAA's list of Worst Roads in the Barrie-area

Ontario’s drivers aren’t expecting streets to be paved with gold, but a little love and care can go a long way, and save motorists in the pocketbook.

The annual campaign kicked off on Tuesday, now in its 20th year.

“For the past two decades, the campaign has given decision-makers a snapshot of the roads that the public perceives as not meeting their expectations,” the CAA said in a news release.

In an interview with Barrie 360, Teresa Di Felice, assistant vice president of government and community relations for CAA South Central Ontario, said no matter how you get around the province, the worst campaign applies to you.

While potholes and road surfaces were the top complaints last year, a lack of cycling infrastructure was the third-biggest grumble from the public, according to Di Felice.

“Bad roads just don’t affect drivers,” she said.

What qualifies as the worst road can be anything from uneven sidewalks, unsafe intersections, uneven pavement, potholes, cracks and crumbling shoulders.

Poor road conditions often end up costing motorists in the pocketbook.

"Pothole damage can cost anywhere from $200 up to $6,000 depending on the make and model of a car," said Di Felice. "In a most recent survey, we did, 45 per cent of our members in Ontario actually did get their vehicles damaged from poor road conditions and 85 per cent are paying out-of-pocket to fix those repairs versus filing a claim either with their insurance company or local municipality."

CAA’s research also indicates that over half of CAA members (59 per cent) say Ontario’s roads
have worsened. Drivers often alter their driving behaviour to accommodate road issues. Many
of them – two-thirds (66 per cent) of Ontarians – are slowing down for bad spots on the road
or swerving to avoid potholes.

Di Felice noted that she has an advocacy team ready to go once the results are made public.

"We talk to municipalities," explains Di Felice. " We also advocate to the provincial and federal levels of government around funding and the needs of municipalities."

She believes the Worst Roads campaign has clout with those who have the power to make the fix.

"While we always pay attention to the CAA Worst Roads list, the list usually tells us what we already know. The City maintains a database of the condition of our roads, and we plan for the maintenance and repair of roadways to optimize spending of tax dollars and road pavement conditions across Barrie," said Kelly Oakley, Associate Director of Corporate Asset Management, in an email to Barrie 360.

Oakley went on to say that 87% of the city’s roads are in fair or better condition.

The city’s capital plan includes $6.5 million for the Road Resurfacing Program for 2023.  In 2023, the city will resurface some key corridors such as Georgian Drive (Duckworth to Gallie), Lakeshore Drive (Tiffin to Minet’s Point Road), Blake (Duckworth to Steel) and a number of locations for a total of 37 lane kilometres of new pavement. More information and a complete list of resurfacing locations is here:

"The City does have some roads in poor condition, and we have a plan to address those also.  In most cases, roads in poor condition need more than just a pavement repair.  We may need to repair a water main or sewer (or both!) below the road, so a larger project may be required.  Other roads require widening to accommodate growth, and so the road repairs will be planned to take place at the same time as the expansion.   Examples of these projects include Big Bay Point (Bayview to Huronia), Duckworth Street and Gunn Street," explained Oakley in the email to Barrie 360.

More information on all road construction projects in the capital plan is available here:

According to CAA, the worst road in the province last year was Barton Street East in Hamilton. The street wasn't to be fixed for a couple of more years, but Di Felice said because it made the top 10 list, the city council came out and made a decision to fix the road starting in 2022.

In Barrie, Bell Farm Road was the worst road in Central Region in 2021. The same year, construction began on the road which runs between St. Vincent Street and Duckworth Street.

"That was a huge project," said Di Felice. "A $14.8 million overhaul, not just the top of the road what people see, but it included ditches, stormwater sewers, and watermains."

This year's campaign ends on April 21.

For more information about how roads deteriorate and how Barrie prioritizes road repair:

Worst Roads Central Region (2022): includes Bruce County, Dufferin County, Grey County, Muskoka District Municipality and Simcoe County

RankRoad NameMunicipality
1Laclie StreetOrillia
2Essa RoadBarrie
3Huronia RoadBarrie
4Duckworth StreetBarrie
5Lockhart RoadBarrie
Source - CAA

Banner image: Bell Farm Road - June 2021

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