Despite increased spending Quebec roads continue to deteriorate

Pothole

Quebec's Transport Ministry may be spending more money to fix up provincial roads, but the latest numbers show there is still more problems.

The annual management report for 2017-2018 shows that the number of roads considered to be in good condition in Quebec dropped, and has been dropping steadily since 2013-2014.

The Ministry splits its road network into three categories: Higher Road Network (Highway, provincial routes, service road), Strategic Network (Highways and provincial routes used for imports and exports), Non-Strategic Network (The rest of the network).

Not only did all three road networks see their overall quality slide, they missed government targets, which were also lower than the previous year.

Looking at the Higher Road Network, 78.9 per cent of roads were classified as being in good condition (down from 79.4% the year before and down from 79.9% in 2014). The goal for the year was 79.8 per cent. Just under 18 per cent of the network was classified as being in bad shape and 3.2 per cent was considered poor.

The Strategic Network has seen the largest decline in roads in good condition, a trend that started in 2013. Despite increased spending, roads in good condition dropped 1.6 per cent over the five years (88.3% to 86.7%). The percentage of roads in poor condition has been on the rise (0.9% to 1.2%) over the same period.

As for the Non-Strategic Network, the downward trend continued, with 75.6 per cent of roads in good condition (down from 76.7 in 2014). The number of roads considered to be in poor condition has been steady at about four per cent.

The report shows that despite best efforts and spending more money on infrastructure, the province's roads are deteriorating faster than they can be repaired, a fact brought up by three independent experts last year. The group, which featured a former Deputy Minister of Transport Canada, said even if Transport Quebec managed to complete all of its planned roadwork set out in its 2018-2020 strategic plan, the province's roads would still continue to slide.

The experts said the slowdown in roadwork in 2017, in part due to spring flooding and a labour dispute involving construction workers did too much damage to catch up. While many of the factors involved were out of the government's hands, projects set to be completed in 2017 were pushed to 2018, ultimately delaying other projects to 2019 and so forth.

The report isn't all bad. 

Government data shows that while roads may be crumbling, bridges and overpasses are in pretty good shape. Just over 75 per cent of provincial bridges were found to be in good condition in the 2017-2018 report, meaning about one in four bridges connecting Highways in Quebec is in bad or poor condition.