Elected officials are applauding the efforts of a grassroots team pushing for the paving of a 12-kilometre stretch of Provincial Road 210.

Spokesperson Bill Stowe says PR 210 from Woodridge to Highway 12 is in "absolutely horrendous" condition. The majority of this road is gravel and Stowe says the 12-kilometre stretch should only take about eight minutes to drive, but these days can take up to 20 minutes.

Wayne Anderson is Reeve for the Rural Municipality of Piney. He says that road is in bad condition both in spring and any time it rains. 

Anderson attended a public meeting held last week in Woodridge. The meeting was organized by a grassroots group, trying to gauge interest from the community in whether they should lobby the province to upgrade the road. 

According to Anderson, local residents have been waiting decades for this road to be paved. In fact, he says the project was set to happen in the 1990s, but never did. 

Anderson makes it clear that this is a provincial road and not the jurisdiction of the municipality. He refers to it as a major road and a strategic one for the southeast. 

"Because of the configuration of the road, it would make a complete loop, with Highway 12 and around back to Ste. Anne and then back through Woodridge on 210," explains Anderson. "So this last little piece to be done, it would complete the whole picture here."

Anderson says this is something that the municipality has definitely brought up with the province over the years. He notes the province keeps telling them that the traffic counts along that stretch of PR 210 do not warrant it being paved. Anderson says the reason why the traffic counts are not higher is because motorists are avoiding it because of its poor condition. 

With a local group now planning to lobby the province for improvements, Anderson says that is a great idea, noting the provincial government answers best to the people.

"If the people voice their concerns to their elected representatives on Broadway, that's where the money is and that's who owns the road and that's who has the power to finish off this job," he says. 

Anderson says the RM will help in any way it can and provide any information that the provincial government needs to make an evidence-based decision. 

"I'm just glad to see that a grassroots organization like this is forming and making up a committee to look at this problem," he adds.

La Verendrye PC MLA Konrad Narth echoes the comments of Anderson. Narth says he lives near that road, noting during the spring thaw and after downpours that road is nearly impassable. He suggests the problem is largely the result of how that road was constructed. Narth says it was originally built to be a paved road and therefore it is very wide.

"It's too wide actually for being a gravel surface road," he says, noting the shape of the road is not designed well to shed water. "Obviously a paved surface needs far less slope to shed water than a gravel surface."

Narth, who also attended last week's public meeting, says clearly the community has passion for this project. He notes the fact that road is not paved means there is now a disconnect between Steinbach and parts of the far southeast corner of the province. 

"It's creating limitations for economic development, community growth, and a disconnect for people many times of the year who work in the southeast corner of the province," he adds. 

Narth says he believes that this grassroots group will be even more influential to the province than the municipality can be. 

"Now the more voices, the better," he says. "And I think that's what this organized group of individuals is going to be able to provide the community."

Narth says as their provincial representative, he is willing to highlight the impacts that this unpaved road is having on that corner of the province and how an upgrade could help with continued growth. He has encouraged the grassroots group to draft a petition that he could present to the Manitoba Legislature.