Middle River musicians hope tune will get road repaired
There’s a song about the West Side Middle River Road that is getting attention for its humour but the state of the road isn’t funny and it has residents worried.
Kate Oland wrote the song 10 years ago as a way to make her son laugh as they travelled over the road. His leg was broken and the severe bumps caused him pain, so Oland used the song to distract him when driving. But people say the road has been in disarray for longer than 10 years.
“I’ve only been here for 14 years but people around here say the road has been bad for 30 years,” said Oland.
“They do come and do maintenance but it’s not meaningful maintenance. They put asphalt in the potholes and that just washes away after the next big rainfall.”
On May 8, one big rainfall did more than just wash out the asphalt. It washed out an entire section of the road, which is affecting daily life, businesses and emergency services response times.
Delina Simpson co-owns K. Simpson Tirecraft and is a medical first responder who volunteers with the local fire department. She said she’s seen the damage the road has done to customer’s vehicles and admits it is causing issues for their business, but it’s the effect it has on emergency calls that really concerns her.
“Taking a big fire truck out in an emergency, every second counts, and before the washout we would have to drive so slow,” Simpson said. “Now we have to drive up Hunters Mountain, down the TransCanada and then back up the West Side. That’s a lot of time wasted.”
Before the road washed out, Simpson thinks it would take five to eight minutes for a fire truck to get to the area. Now Simpson estimates it takes at least 15 minutes longer. More if the road continues to deteriorate.
Former resident Janice Ross now lives in Margaree but visits her parents’ farm in West Side Middle River four times a week. Ross drives a van and believes the road has caused so much damage to it that they’ll have to replace it earlier than expected.
“The heat shield has been ripped off, tons of under parts also ripped off — bushings, stabilizer links, struts,” she said, listing off some of the damage done driving that road.
Ross also worries about her parents who own a big farm in the area. “My dad drives trucks over that road, with big animals in them. When will my Dad not be able to do that anymore?”
The washout inspired Oland to record her song with singer Mary Austin and guitarist Bill Conall and put it on social media with hopes it would bring attention to the issue.
“If a school bus was going over the part that washed out, we would be having a different discussion right now,” she says.
Oland knows of one business that has closed its doors because of the road’s poor condition before the wash out.
“It was a motorcycle bed and breakfast,” she said. “They felt it was too much of a liability to have people on the road. And they are right. But that’s a business that is gone from our community.”
Over the years, petitions have been filed and residents have been asking for the road to be repaired but nothing seems to happen.
“It has been addressed and nothing comes out of it — just a bigger hole in the road,” said Simpson.
But she is hopefully the attention the song is getting will bring attention to the much-needed road repair.
“Any little bit will help. They say the squeaky wheel gets the grease.”