When it comes to roads, Tahsis always has to drive a hard bargain with the provincial government.
And this has always been a “historical issue” according to Mayor Martin Davis, who said that the remote west Vancouver Island village has repeatedly raised the need for improvements with the provincial Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure.
Head Bay Road connects Tahsis to Gold River and Highway 28. Along the 60km road, there are segments that are still unpaved.
For Tahsis the most recent concern is increased logging traffic.
The ongoing road dispute between Mowachaht Muchalaht First Nations (MMFN) and Western Forest Product has seen loaded trucks rerouted from the Gold River log sort to the Nesook Dump, said Davis.
In October last year, MMFN announced that it was restricting access to the portion of Highway 28 that passes through Ahaminaquus Indian Reserve Number 12 (IR 12) to the logging company until a land-use compensation agreement was reached.
With this rerouting, the road leading into Tahsis is seeing “a lot more wear and tear and damage,” said Davis.
The concerns were communicated to the ministry and Mainroad Contracting – contracted by the ministry to maintain the road leading to Tahsis – in December 2020.
That was when ministry staff submitted a report on Head Bay Road FSR after completing 53 monitoring records, including surface condition deficiencies and other maintenance activity.
Mainroad also provided the ministry with 58 quality inspection reports on work they had done or identified for the future. In addition the ministry completed two audits of the Head Bay FSR – a short response time audit and a snow and ice audit.
The audits identified road segments that were quite rough, surface condition issues and a number of potholes in the paved section that needed to be addressed. The report concluded that Mainroad was performing their maintenance at regular intervals to meet the highway maintenance specifications.
Since then, there have been “noticeable improvements,” said the mayor and added, “It’s never perfect, but it seems that holding their feet to the fire does drive results.”
In the meeting with the transportation minister, the mayor also raised concerns about road safety and asked for markers along corners where rollovers are common.
“It’s a very dangerous road, we keep getting rollovers on the road,” said Davis and added, “I’m trying to get the transportation ministry to put in better signage warning people of tight corners or even reflectors along the side of the road.”
In response, new delineators have been installed at a number of locations along Head Bay FSR and old culvert replacement is ongoing this month.
But despite these improvements, there’s more work that needs to be done, says mayor Davis.
“We are not receiving any commitment to further paving on the road and my suggestion to test an embedded plastic road grid to stabilize gravel bridge approaches received a half-hearted commitment to ‘look into it.’ This is an issue as there are often bad potholes on each side of bridges, which makes braking and vehicle control more difficult.