For anyone that spends a lot of time on the highways, the railway crossing on the east side of Bienfait is known to be one of the worst spots of highway in all of southeast Saskatchewan. While no solid date has been set, the crossing is set to be fixed.
"I would say we've been on their (Department of Highways) for at least four years," says Denis Moore with the Southeast Transportation Committee. "We all have a bridge that needs some attention, some lighting that needs attention, various things that come up, signage that's been laying in the ditch for years. So they have two crews that actually service the area, and that's a lot of terriotry to cover but having said that, we've waited a long time to get this corrected and this year, everything else but the crossing in Bienfait has been looked after. We're really pleased with how we're coming into this season."
Part of what has taken so long to get this major bump in the road fixed up has been the fact that so many people are involved. Of course, anything highway related in the southeast corner has to go through the Southeast Transportation Committee and the Saskatchewan Department of Highways, as well as the crews that are going to be the ones fixing it but because of the crossing, CP Railway is also involved in any decisions made surrounding the crossing.
"When you have to tag in with the railroad people, that's a whole different ball of wax because you have to make everything work. You have to make the asphalt available and ready for the day that they decide to come and clear out what we need cleared out. The railroad's only responsible for eight inches on either side of the track, and the rest is the Ministry of Highways."
The crossing sits in a 50 kph zone, but more often than not you'll find people speeding much faster over that area, escalating to the point where one man was given a speeding ticket and blamed the fact he was speeding over the crossing to keep it smooth and reduce any damage to his vehicle. In reality, while speeding over the tracks may make it feel smoother, you're only pounding into the imperfections of the road harder and making them more prominent, meaning the crossing will only continue to get worse.
"It's really frustrating for the town of Bienfait because they deal with it every day. Guys are starting to feel that we're really not doing our job, but that's the only job we did not complete this year, and some of those jobs waited for two or three years. I'm not making excuses, I'm just saying that that's the way the system works."
A bunch of other roadway projects are in the works as well, including work on highway 47 south all the way to the border crossing and looking to repair some of the dips in the road where the mining companies cross the highway with some of the heavier trucks in the area. When it comes to the Biefait crossing however, the crossing should resemble another project from last year.
"We are dealing with a new fellow from the Department of Highways and he's well connected with the railroad people, and what they'd like to do is the same kind of job they did in Lampman which they did a very good job."
No timeline has been set for the day(s) the repairs will take place on, but when they do, expect to have traffic rerouted for a few days to make sure the repairs hold.