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Mysterious nails and screws strewn across Manitoba highway worrying area drivers

Marcel LaFortune has been using a magnet to pick up hundreds of loose nails and screws he says have been left strewn across PR 200 near his home in St. Adolphe. Submitted/Marcel LaFortune

Hundreds of nails and screws are showing up along a highway just outside of Winnipeg and area residents are calling on the province to help clean up the mysterious mess.

Marcel LaFortune says he’s walked 35 km in the last week, picking up the nails and screws he’s found strewn along Provincial Road 200, south of the city.

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“It almost seems as soon as I pick them up, within the next day they’re back,” LaFortune, who lives in St. Adolphe, told 680 CJOB this week.

“What concerns me the most with all of this is the injury, or worse, that all of this could cause.”

LaFortune has been using a walk-behind magnetic sweeper to clean up, and says he’s filled a gallon bucket halfway full with nails and screws in the last week alone.

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LaFortune says he’s filled a gallon bucket half full with nails and screws in the last week alone. Submitted/Marcel LaFortune

The worst of the mess on PR 200 — which extends from St Mary’s Road in Winnipeg — can usually be found along a stretch of the road near the floodway, in the RM of Ritchot, Lafortune said.

LaFortune says he’s called the province about the nails and screws, but says so far, nothing’s been done. Meanwhile, others in the community are joining his efforts to clean up.

“Our community is getting frustrated and wanting to take matters into their own hands,” he said.

‘Not just potentially dangerous’

Chris Ewen, Mayor of Ritchot, says the municipality first started hearing complaints about the problem a couple of years ago, but the problem eventually stopped as mysteriously as it started. He said it’s only recently become an issue again.

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“We’re looking to solve a situation that’s not just potentially dangerous, it is now harmful to any resident or person that is not even a part of the municipality that takes that road to work, to go see family, to do any commuting they need to,” he said.

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“Whoever can take on the role of cleaning it up, I appreciate, and I just want it figured out and getting it done.”

Ewen said the municipality has no idea where the nails and screws are coming from.

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“I’d like to believe it’s truly an accident, but I’m not ruling anything out,” he said.

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“It’s sick if there’s an individual or a human doing this — these are people’s lives you’re putting at risk.”

A spokesperson from Manitoba Infrastructure says the province is aware of the issue and plans are in place to clean things up this week.

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“Department staff have used power brooms to remove nails and screws from the surface of this highway. However, we will now utilise a truck-mounted road magnet to collect the nails,” the spokesperson said in an email.

While he province doesn’t know where the screws and nails are coming from, the spokesperson said the problem is common along roads leading to landfill sites.

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