Beat up road on beaten path

Res­i­dents get bumpy ride on New Har­bour Bar­rens

The Compass - - FRONT PAGE - BY DENISE PIKE

Win­ter is com­ing to an end, and as usual, it has left a re­minder of its pres­ence — pot­holes. Those huge crater-size de­pres­sions caused by the rapid ex­pan­sion and con­trac­tion of as­phalt are ev­ery­where and the New Har­bour Bar­rens is full of them. In fact many res­i­dents de­scribe the well-trav­elled stretch of high­way (Route 73), which links Trin­ity and Con­cep­tion Bays, as an ob­sta­cle course in places.

Randy from Trin­ity Bay is one of the hun­dreds of peo­ple who use the road to com­mute to work on a daily ba­sis.

“Right now cer­tain sec­tions of it aren’t fit to drive on be­cause of the pot­holes,” he said.“Like most I try to weave my car around them, but that can be danger­ous. There are no shoul­ders left on the road in many places ei­ther and too many ruts to count all over the place. If a driver hap­pens to fish­tail and hit the edge of the pave­ment in a place where the shoul­ders have eroded away, there’s a good chance he or she won’t be able to get their car back on the road. More than likely they’ll hit the loose gravel and then they’re out in a ditch,” he adds.

Ac­cord­ing to Randy the New Har­bour Bar­rens road is a highly trav­elled high­way.

“It’s used as much, if not more than the Heart’s Con­tent Bar­rens, “ he said.“It’s also the main route an am­bu­lance has to take to get from Trin­ity Bay to the hospi­tal in Carbonear. Hun­dreds of res­i­dents de­pend on that road to get them safely to the hospi­tal and to var­i­ous busi­nesses in Con­cep­tion Bay.”

Be­tween 40-50 teach­ers and hun­dreds of busi­ness peo­ple from Con­cep­tion Bay use the road to com­mute to their work­places ev­ery day. Judy, from Con­cep­tion Bay, is among them.

She wants gov­ern­ment to put her tax dol­lars to­wards paving the New Har­bour Bar­rens.

‘Keeps get­ting worse’

“That’s what our tax dol­lars are there for, isn’t it?” she said. “I’m sick of driv­ing over it and al­most los­ing half of my car in one of the pot­holes ev­ery day. The ruts and the gouged out shoul­ders are ridicu­lous and each year the con­di­tion of the road keeps get­ting worse. Ev­ery now and then as an at­tempt to al­le­vi­ate the prob­lem there’s a few as­phalt patches put in here, there and ev­ery­where, but that doesn’t help at all. The pave­ment is worn away and frost gets in un­der it and then pops it out caus­ing pot­holes and bumps.”

Snow clear­ing and up­keep of the New Har­bour Bar­rens road falls un­der the re­spon­si­bil­ity of the Depart­ment of Trans­porta­tion and Works, Bay Roberts De­pot.

On Mon­day March 9 The Com­pass­called Steve Ab­bott, su­per- in­ten­dent of op­er­a­tions for the depart­ment, who sug­gested we call Don Bren­nan, re­gional di­rec­tor of Trans­porta­tion and Works.

“We rec­og­nize that work needs to be car­ried out on that road; how­ever I wouldn’t be able to com­ment on whether or not any im­prove­ments will be made un­til the pro­vin­cial bud­get comes down,” said Bren­nan. “Road projects of this na­ture fall un­der the Pro­vin­cial Roads Pro­gram and un­til the bud­get for that is ap­proved I wouldn’t be able to say what the plan for the New Har­bour Bar­rens will be.”

Bren­nan did say re­pairs to the road are on­go­ing through­out the year.

“If there are pot­holes or some other ur­gent re­pairs needed then it should be done,” he said. “All some­one has to do is call a de­pot and re­port it.”

Pot­hole re­pair is a sim­ple process: drop an as­phalt mix into the of­fend­ing fis­sure and push it down with some­thing heavy. Even driv­ing the wheel of a heavy-duty truck over the mix can some­times do the trick.

“The prob­lem with patch­ing pot­holes or fill­ing them in is the first time it rains it just ba­si­cally washes away,” said both Randy and Judy.“And we all know how much rain we get around here. Patch­ing isn’t the cure-all.The long-term so­lu­tion is to get that road repaved.”

Mean­while be­cause ad­vo­cat­ing for fund­ing to up­grade the road falls un­der a pri­or­ity list es­tab­lished by the MHAs, Bren­nan sug­gested The Com­pass give them a call. On Mon­day March 9, The Com­pass called Port de Grave MHA Roland But­ler, Trin­ity Bay de Verde MHA, Char­lene John­son, Carbonear MHA Jerome Kennedy and Belle­vue MHA Calvin Peach.

In the past up­grad­ing the New Har­bour Bar­rens was a shared re­spon­si­bil­ity be­tween John­son and But­ler. How­ever in 2007 the elec­toral bound­aries changed and it seems the road be­came every­one’s — and no one’s — re­spon­si­bil­ity.

“It’s a bit of a no man’s land,” said But­ler, whose district now ends in Spa­niard’s Bay.

“None of us are re­spon­si­ble for all of it, but as far as I am con­cerned all of us are re­spon­si­ble for some of it. The road isn’t in my district any­more, not even as it once was be­fore the elec­toral bound­ary change. How­ever I still ad­vo­cate for re­pairs to it be­cause it is the main link be­tween the two ar­eas. Many peo­ple in Trin­ity Bay come to Bay Roberts shop­ping or for work and some from here go to Trin­ity Bay for work. There­fore I do go looking for fund­ing to re­pair and pave it, but I have to be hon­est be­cause the road is no longer un­der my district bound­ary, I’m pretty lim­ited.There are many other roads in my district I have to look out for as well.”

But­ler cites poor qual­ity of pave­ment as be­ing part of the prob­lem.

Qual­ity of pave­ment

“Some of the larger pot­holes are on the new pave­ment that was put down last year,” he said.“That brings into ques­tion the qual­ity of the pave­ment — for it to de­te­ri­o­rate that quickly there has to be some­thing wrong with the qual­ity of the pave­ment.”

Ac­cord­ing to But­ler pave­ment qual­ity and road­work is a con­cern across the prov­ince.

“The is­sue was put forth as a res­o­lu­tion dur­ing a Mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties New­found­land and Labrador con­ven­tion last year,” he said. “It’s hap­pen­ing in many towns and cer­tainly needs to be looked at and ad­dressed.”

Mean­while Belle­vue MHA Calvin Peach pre­ferred not to com­ment on the con­di­tion of the New Har­bour Bar­rens. Peach’s elec­toral district takes in the com­mu­nity of New Har­bour, but ac­cord­ing to in­for­ma­tion pro­vided by the prov­ince’s Chief Elec­toral Of­fice, it ends on the cen­tre line at the turnoff to New Har­bour Bar­rens.

While the MHA felt the road was in “Min­is­ter John­son’s dis- trict,” not his, and he wasn’t at lib­erty to com­ment he said he sym­pa­thizes with the peo­ple us­ing the road, but has to put the needs of his own district first. The MHA did say he has ex­pressed con­cern on the con­di­tion of the road to Trans­porta­tion Min­is­ter Trevor Tay­lor. Peach re­ferred The Com­pass to him.

The Com­pass­called the Depart­ment of Trans­porta­tion and spoke to a num­ber of peo­ple be­fore leav­ing a voice mail mes­sage with the depart­ment’s di­rec­tor of com­mu­ni­ca­tions ask­ing whether any work will be car­ried out on New Har­bour Bar­rens in the next few months. As of Fri­day, March 13 there was no re­ply. While an of­fi­cial from Min­is­ter John­son’s of­fice did re­turn a call from The Com­pass­the min­is­ter was un­avail­able for com­ment. De­spite sev­eral calls and voice mails to Min­is­ter Jerome Kennedy’s of­fice, as of Fri­day March 13, there was no re­ply.

Mean­while, in early March a num­ber of con­cerned res­i­dents es­tab­lished a Face­book web­site Pave the New Har­bour Bar­rens with the hope of get­ting the sit­u­a­tion ad­dressed.

On Tues­day, March 10, work­ers from Trans­porta­tion showed up on New Har­bour Bar­rens, and filled in the pot­holes.

‘Band-Aid so­lu­tion’

“I hope they know that’s just a Band-Aid so­lu­tion, a tem­po­rary fix,” said Randy. “That as­phalt won’t be there long be­cause for one thing it prob­a­bly wasn’t even heated up enough be­fore it was put in the holes. Was it hot patch or just a bit of stone shov­elled in? The bot­tom line is that road needs to be repaved, so they’ve got a long ways to go be­fore they’re done. It’s pretty bad, I’ve been on roller coast­ers that were an eas­ier ride.”

Denise Pike/The Com­pass

CRATERS AND CRACKS - Pot­holes like this one on the New Har­bour Bar­rens are dam­ag­ing cars and up­set­ting mo­torists.

Denise Pike/The Com­pass

PATCHED UP - Peo­ple from Trin­ity and Con­cep­tion Bays say patch­ing pot­holes is only a Band-Aid so­lu­tion. They say all of the well-trav­elled high­way needs to be repaved.

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