Residents of Woodridge came out Monday night to show their support towards a dream of having Provincial Road 210 paved from Woodridge down to Highway 12. 

Spokesperson Bill Stowe says that stretch of roadway 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.

A public meeting was held Monday at the Woodridge Community Club, to gauge support towards lobbying the province to have this road paved. Stowe says organizers are very pleased with the turnout.

"There was a lot of positive conversation had," he says. "A lot of support shown for what we are trying to do here."

Stowe says after a couple of days of rain, that stretch of PR 210 turns into mud, with standing water, potholes, and washboard. He notes the added time needed to drive down that road for emergencies is unacceptable. 

Stowe says a complete rebuild of that road is not necessary. He notes from what he has heard, 30 years ago, that road was built with the intention of it one day being paved. Stowe says three decades ago, crews dug out the swamp, put in fill, and prepared the road for paving. However, because it was built with the intention of one day paving, Stowe says it is flat and not crowned like other gravel roads, and therefore is not able to shed water. 

"Which is one of the bigger problems right now is that it was constructed to be paved, not to be an all-weather road," he explains. "So, it's its own worst enemy."

According to Stowe, Monday's public meeting was only the first step in what could end up being a lengthy process. Stowe says it was great to have government support there as well, including the Reeve and two councillors from the Rural Municipality of Piney and La Verendrye PC MLA Konrad Narth. He notes that based on what they saw and heard Monday night, they are willing to take their efforts to the next level.

"Some of our goals were to gauge public support (Monday) night and to possibly recruit some volunteers," he says. "Those two things I think definitely were accomplished, so we're pleased with that."

However, he says there is still much work to be done. Stowe says the next step will likely be to organize a committee. He notes this is all very new to those spearheading this project so obtaining help from individuals like Narth will be key. Stowe says they will need volunteers for things such as circulating petitions. 

Stowe says his group is very aware of just how long this could take before it ever receives the necessary provincial government approval. However, because the project has been sitting dormant for 30 years, he notes they would like to move as quickly as possible. Stowe says what should work in their favour is the fact that this one road impacts a lot of people and a lot of communities.

"We feel that we have a pretty good case here and that there are significant communities and people involved here that this has been holding them back for the last 30 years," he says. "We're hoping that it can be sped up. I don't think we're going to be arrogant enough to think that we're moved right to the top of the list or anything like that."

Not only that, but Stowe says a change in government in the future can also alter plans. 

Stowe says if only this project could have been completed 30 years ago when it was first started. He notes local residents say they were actually promised a paved road back in the day. Stowe says residents are curious to know how much money has been spent on that road over the last three decades in laying gravel and driving graders across. He is curious if 30 years later they have spent just as much money as it would have cost to pave those 12 kilometres back in the '90s.