On-Site Magazine

Canadian roads would stretch to the Moon and back… nearly

By David Kennedy   

Bridges Infrastructure Roads

OTTAWA—Cobble together all of Canada’s highways, arterials, local roads and laneways and they could take you to the Moon—though they’d fall just short of getting you back, assuming you couldn’t backtrack along the same, equally implausible strip of asphalt.

Publicly-owned roads of all types stretch 765,917 kilometres—just 2,883 kilometres shy of a roundtrip to the moon—according to a first-of-its-kind study that takes stock of Canadian infrastructure.

Source: Statistics Canada

The Statistics Canada catalogue breaks down the number of roads, bridges and tunnels coast to coast to coast, as well as their condition. The project aims to establish a “baseline” for the country’s infrastructure and make sure future investments are properly targeted. Once complete, the broader study will also record water, social housing and public transit assets.


Of the total 765,917 kilometres of roads across the country, almost half are in Ontario and Alberta, with each province accounting for just under a quarter of the total.

As far as the road conditions go, the study found that 39.8 per cent of Canada’s public roads were built between 1970 and 1999 and approximately 25 per cent of the total were built from 2000 on. More than half of the hundreds of thousands of kilometres of roadways are in good or very good condition. Still, about 25 per cent of all highways, arterials, collectors, local roads, laneways and alleys are in poor or very poor shape, the study showed.

The country’s bridges and tunnels fared better, on average, with Statistics Canada saying just over one in 10 rate as being in poor or very poor physical condition. Meanwhile, about half of bridges owned by municipalities are in good or very good shape, compared to 60 per cent for all other bridges and tunnels.

Source: Statistics Canada

Ontario and Alberta also topped the list of bridges, home to 30.7 and 21.5 per cent of the country’s 47,279 respectively.

When it comes to tunnels, British Columbia and Nova Scotia have dug their way into the lead. The two provinces each have about a quarter of Canada’s 351 publicly-owned tunnels.

Far and away the leader on culverts, Ontario has 41.4 per cent of the Canadian total.

The data is based on responses from 1,500 government organizations in all provinces and territories.


Stories continue below