Ken Day doesn't usually get pumped up about driving on a gravel road, but on Wednesday he had a hard time containing his excitement.
Thanks to the work of city crews to repair a one-kilometre stretch of Haldi Lake Road in rural Beaverly, Day will no longer be forced to cut short his school bus route.
In May, after a stretch of wet weather, the road became virtually impassible with potholes and frost heaves. Diversified Transportation school bus drivers moving kids to and from Vanway elementary and College Heights secondary schools had no choice but to avoid Haldi Lake Road between Leslie Road and Grouse Road.
Now it's nothing but smooth sailing.
"The road definitely needed to be fixed and these guys are doing an awesome job," said Day.
"They put down fist-sized rocks in some of the holes and put several layers of gravel over that and have driven it in and graded it. They're not just patching it, they're going beyond fixing the holes and really going for it."
Day, who has driven the Haldi Lake Road bus route for three years, said the rough road was especially difficult for special needs students, who sometimes had to be restrapped to their wheelchairs after being jarred from their seats. He said one area resident showed her appreciation for the city's rebuilding project this week by coming by with a plate of freshly-baked cookies to offer workers.
"The locals and the bus drivers are thankful for the awesome job the city crews are doing, it's great," said Day. "It's a big expense but it really needed to be done, and bravo."
The road fell under the city's jurisdiction when the southwestern city limit was expanded several years ago. Until the project was completed Wednesday afternoon, the gravel was not thick enough to meet acceptable standards.
"We have numerous outlying roads and we try to hit the most problematic, as budget allows," said city transportation manager Al Clark. "It's a slow process but we eventually get to them."
The city got caught up with its paving projects and was able to tackle some roads that were not part if the original 2012 budget after city council approved an additional $1.9 million in spending.
Clark said the city will continue to improve some of its gravel roads by spreading recycled asphalt milled from the top two inches of road surfaces just prior to repaving. The milled asphalt is applied without heat, then spread with graders and packed with a roller.
The surface left behind resembles a hard paved surface but is not as smooth. An example of that is the north end of Cranbrook Hill Road near Otway Road. Last year, Hartman Road was given a similar treatment.
"What you end up with is a fairly hard surface which can almost pass for asphalt," said Clark. "It keeps the dust down and it provides strength."
In April, Prince George had five of the top-10 worst roads in the province, according to the B.C. Automobile Association. Domano Boulevard was second on that list, followed by Tabor Boulevard (fifth), 15th Avenue (tied for sixth), Massey Drive (tied for seventh) and Foothills Boulevard (eighth). All were repaved this past summer.