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Commuters Frustrated by Frequent Nails on Highway 200

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Nails On Highway Crop
Residents of the southeast have been noticing more and more nails on the surface of a very particular stretch of highway. Susan Zimmerman

Commuters south of Winnipeg, beware. For the last several months, residents of the southeast—specifically from the communities of Ritchot—have been outspoken when it comes to reporting multiple incidents of nails being strewn along the surface of Highway 200, St. Mary’s Road, in the area around the Winnipeg Floodway.

These nails have led to a large number of punctured and irreparable tires, and local drivers have begun to suspect someone may be placing the nails on the road intentionally as an act of vandalism.

Kyle Langlais and Susan Zimmerman commute from the St. Adolphe area and have both had their tires punctured by nails, which they suspect happened along this stretch of highway.

“I have been dealing with the issue of brand-new roofing nails in our tires for months now,” says Langlais. “It always seems to be on the Floodway bridge and south, around the corner there. We have had dozens of flats over the last few months and it’s very frustrating, to say the least. It seems as though it’s being done intentionally, as it’s always brand-new roofing nails in the same location. And there’s no possible way that a contractor or multiple contractors could lose brand-new roofing nails in the same stretch of highway, again and again and again like this.”

Zimmerman has recorded the exact locations of the times she’s found nails on the highway, including on November 4 and 14.

“I’ve seen the nails on three occasions in the last couple weeks,” Zimmerman says. “The first time was north of the Floodway, but before Courchaine Road. The second time was just south of the Floodway right before bridge. This most recent time, it was about a quarter-mile south of the Floodway on the straightaway between the curves.”

Zimmerman has racked up more than $800 in repair costs, money which she says she has to shell out on nail repairs and tire replacements since 2017. Some of her tires have had multiple nails.

Langlais estimates dozens of people, at least, have had to repair or replace damaged tires recently and says that something needs to be done about the situation. He and other concerned residents have reached out to the local authorities for help.

“My first call was to the RCMP, and they said it’s not our area, that it’s Winnipeg police,” says Langlais. “So I contacted them and they said it’s outside the city and it’s not our area, that’s RCMP. But then they confirmed on a map, it was their area. The City of Winnipeg also tried to say it wasn’t their area, but eventually they did send a crew to clean it up.”

Ken Allen, communications officer for the City of Winnipeg’s public works department, sent a crew to clean up nails on St. Mary’s Road just south of the Floodway on November 4. He said this was the first time their department had been made aware of an issue with nails.

“It appeared like a box or a container of nails had fallen off a truck and was scattered across the roadway,” said Allen about what his clean-up crew saw. “This seems to be an isolated incident. Sometimes things fall off trucks. So in my opinion, it appears it happened accidentally. We appreciate the public calling us at 311 so we can send a crew to complete whatever clean-up is necessary.”

Recurring Issue

While the City of Winnipeg determined that this was not a recurring issue, Corporal Julie Courchaine responded on behalf of the RCMP and confirmed the opposite.

“There are a number of files that have been called in and been investigated throughout the year,” says Courchaine. “In speaking with some detachments, in some of these reports people have said they had a flat tire from before, and it may have happened somewhere else. Our files do not confirm such a specific area of highway. But the people do seem to feel it has happened in that particular area.”

Courchaine also says it is quite a large area to monitor and the RCMP has communicated with the RM of Ritchot about these incidents.

Staff Sergeant Guy Landreville with the St. Pierre RCMP also confirmed there have been multiple reports of nails on the highway dating back a number of years. He acknowledges that this continues to be an ongoing problem. He says this is not really a public safety issue, but an issue of suspicious activity.

“We have responded to a few calls stating people got a flat tire from roofing nails near that location,” says Landreville. “From experience, a roofing nail will normally not cause a blowout of a tire. It will usually contribute to a slow leak of the tire, leading to a warning light activating on the vehicle’s dashboard.”

The RCMP always encourages the public to report suspicious activity, and they say all leads will be investigated.

Mitch Duval, CAO of the RM of Ritchot, says he personally filed a police report to the RCMP last year about nails on the highway and that the RM of Ritchot has tried to help address the importance of cleaning the road of nails.

“The RM has been made aware of the issue approximately three to four times over the past six years,” says Duval. “We are not sure if this is intentional or not, but we did report the matter in the past to the RCMP. If the municipality hears about the issue, we contact the province, Manitoba Infrastructure, Highway Division, as it is a provincial road. They are pretty good and send out a sweeper to take care of the problem. I take that road every day, so I’m hoping for no flats along the way.”

Duval says that the RM welcomes any concerned residents to contact their office.

Video Evidence

The RCMP has also suggested that video evidence would go a long way toward helping to confirm whether this is being done by someone on purpose.

Recently, Niverville’s town council installed high-quality video surveillance around the community and recently had success solving a hit-and-run crime. The cameras secured footage that the RCMP were able to use as evidence in court, which was critical to solving the case.

“Video evidence is always extremely helpful in helping to solve any crime,” says Staff Sergeant Landreville. “Anyone who possesses such equipment and would like clarification on laws surrounding its usage is asked to contact our detachment. We would be glad to help anyone with questions.”

Currently, Ritchot does not have any community surveillance cameras, but Duval says purchasing them is not out of the question.

“Absolutely, Ritchot’s council would be willing to talk to the RCMP about how and where to install community cameras,” Duval says. “We are looking at the RCMP as well as the province’s collaboration on the matter.”

Insurance Claims

In the meantime, residents continue to be frustrated and are looking for further options to address the issue.

“I live about five kilometres south of the Floodway, north of St. Adolphe, and one kilometre north of Leclerc Road,” says Langlais. “The option to just take another road is not reasonable for me. We have to drive this road to bring our kids to daycare and go to work. Telling people to just avoid the area is not feasible.”

Some residents are looking to file reports with Manitoba Public Insurance in the hopes of recouping some of the costs they’ve accrued from repairing or replacing tires.

Leanne Moore with Affinity Insurance in St. Adolphe has also had a few nails in her tires over the years.

“Everyone gets a nail in their tire over the years,” Moore says. “It’s happened to me. It’s not a costly repair job and we are lucky in the St. Adolphe area to have so many great car repair shops to help get a quick repair. But with all the other reports of nails coming forward, I’m starting to think about that area being where I got a nail.”

Even though Moore agrees it’s possible someone could be putting nails on the road intentionally, she says it would be a difficult insurance claim to approve. Vandalism insurance can sometimes cover damage to vehicles, if you have a $100–$200 deductible, but MPI would require proof.

“While I am starting to think, yes, there is something going on in the area, it would be hard to claim vandalism,” says Moore. “Unless there is evidence somebody put the nails there, it cannot be proven as vandalism. And there is no way for MPI to really determine where someone got a nail in their car. You can say it happened in one area, but if you drove all the way to the city, who’s to say it didn’t happen in the city?”

“We Have to Do Something”

Frustrated residents continue to brainstorm on the St. Adolphe Community Info Facebook page, and Langlais is hopeful that an increased awareness of these incidents will help put a stop to it.

“Hopefully the more awareness we raise, the more that the individual doing this will realize it’s harming real people in the day-to-day world and hopefully it will stop,” says Langlais. “I think we can figure out who is doing this and get an answer to what can be done to address this and make this stop. We have to do something.”

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