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The joys of Deh Cho driving
Editorial Comment - Deh Cho Drum

One thing all Deh Cho residents get accustomed to is distances.

No matter which community in the region you live in, it is almost always a very long way to get to where you want to go. The need to travel for potentially hours, even if it's just to the nearest neighboring community to buy groceries, is one reason the state of the highways in the Deh Cho is such a topic of interest and concern.

Drive to visit any Deh Cho community and once people realize you are in from out of town, one of the first questions you'll get is "how were the roads?" Smooth roads can mean the difference between an expedient, stress-free trip and lengthy delays if you have to drive slowly to avoid washboard, potholes or soft spots or, worse yet, end up off the road.

Most Deh Cho residents have at least one story related to bad road conditions and what happened as a result. Every one hopes for good road conditions when they head out.

But what those conditions look like might not be the same for everyone. Chipseal is often held up as the holy grail for the highways in the Deh Cho.

People imagine chipseal stretching as far as the eye can see, smooth, flat and a dream to drive on. Just think of the trips then. The distances wouldn't get any smaller, but traveling them would be faster and easier.

No more giant dust clouds in the summer that hide oncoming vehicles, no more chipped windshields every time a transport truck passes. Wouldn't it be lovely?

Of course those dreams aren't always tempered by reality. Who wants ruin the ideal by thinking of the chipseal near the junction of Highways 1 and 3 that has been breaking apart almost since it was laid. And potholes, those can get pretty deep in chipseal.

For some, ideal highways in the Deh Cho are ones that are well maintained even if they are gravel. As long as the surface and its under structure are kept in good repair, gravel highways can get people where they need to go with few problems. In perfect conditions it can feel almost as smooth as chipseal.

Yes, gradually getting all the Deh Cho highways chipsealed is something most residents want to see. In the meantime, perhaps instead of an extra 20 km of chipseal here or there, residents should be pressing the Department of Transportation to have equally good highway conditions between all communities.

No highway should be allowed to lapse so that a few more kilometres of chipseal can be added elsewhere.

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