‘Half-ar­sed high­way’

Driv­ing school owner says Vet­er­ans high­way un­safe; says pass­ing lanes, other up­grades, badly needed

The Compass - - FRONT PAGE - Photo by Terry Roberts/The Com­pass

Lynn Strong of Strong Driv­ing in Bay Roberts is rais­ing con­cerns about Vet­er­ans Me­mo­rial High­way. She says the road is dan­ger­ous and is call­ing on the pro­vin­cial govern­ment to con­duct a thor­ough re­view.

The owner of a driver ed­u­ca­tion school in Bay Roberts says the most re­cent tragic ac­ci­dent on Vet­er­ans Me­mo­rial High­way is fur­ther proof that the two-lane, 40-plus kilo­me­tre high­way from the Trans-Canada to Car­bon­ear is dan­ger­ous and is in des­per­ate need of im­prove­ments.

“It’s a dan­ger­ous piece of road on any given day of the week,” Lynn Strong, owner/op­er­a­tor of Strong Driv­ers, stated last week.

Strong spends hours each day on the road, many with in­ex­pe­ri­enced new driv­ers at the wheel of her car, and has long been frus­trated by its de­sign and the qual­ity of the road’s sur­face. She de­cided to voice her con­cerns pub­licly fol­low­ing a deadly ac­ci­dent on the evening of Sept. 9 that ended with the death of a 60-year-old truck driver from Bay Roberts.

The ac­ci­dent was un­usual in that both ve­hi­cles - the trac­tor trailer and a Pon­tiac Grand Prix - were trav­el­ling north to­wards Bay Roberts. There was heavy rain and high winds at the time, and po­lice be­lieve the car was at­tempt­ing to over­take the truck, hy­droplaned and veered into its path. The trac­tor trailer over­turned into the ditch. The two male oc­cu­pants of the car re­ceived only mi­nor in­juries.

This ac­ci­dent was a lit­tle more per­sonal than most for Strong. Her hus­band is Rev. Canon Wil­liam Strong, the min­is­ter of the Angli­can church in Up­per Is­land Cove. Po­lice called Rev. Strong dur­ing the early morn­ing hours, ask­ing for as­sis­tance in lo­cat­ing the de­ceased man’s next of kin.

“ I was awake the rest of the night,” Lynn Strong said. She had of­ten been tempted to go pub­lic with her con­cerns, and said the Sept. 9 ac­ci­dent was the fi­nal straw.

Dur­ing an in­ter­view last week in the park­ing lot of the vis­i­tor in­for­ma­tion cen­tre near Bay Roberts, Strong pulled no punches, call­ing the road un­safe and “ half-ar­sed.” She called on the pro­vin­cial govern­ment to un­der­take an im­me­di­ate re­view, and take the steps nec­es­sary to im­prove the sit­u­a­tion.

Strong said she didn’t want to point any fin­gers of blame in re­la­tion to the most re­cent deadly ac­ci­dent, but sug­gested the place­ment of a bro­ken yel­low line on that stretch of road likely played a role in the tragedy.

“ There’s a bro­ken line on a hill, on a bend, just prior to an in­ter­change ( Makin­sons/ Hodge­wa­ter Line), which I dare any­one to drive any­where and find that con­fig­u­ra­tion of a pass­ing lane,” she stated. “ Ev­ery­one has ques­tioned why there is a bro­ken line on that bend, on a hill, prior to an in­ter­change. It makes no sense.”

Some other con­cerns of Strong’s in­clude: • The North River over­pass: This over­pass has long raised eye­brows with mo­torists, since it only has on/off ramps on the south side, to­wards the Trans-Canada High­way. Tire marks in the area of­fer clear proof that many mo­torists make il­le­gal u-turns in or­der to head north to­wards Bay Roberts, or to en­ter North River when trav­el­ling in a southerly di­rec­tion.

Strong said the de­ci­sion to con­struct “ half ” an over­pass “makes no sense.” • T-in­ter­sec­tions: There are at least three so-called t-in­ter­sec­tions at Spa­niard’s Bay, Har­bour Grace and Car­bon­ear. At these in­ter­sec­tions, a stop sign con­trols the flow of traf­fic in­stead of an ex­pen­sive over­pass and on/ off ramps.

Strong said a “ huge per­cent­age” of col­li­sions take place at t-in­ter­sec­tions. She called the de­ci­sion to con­struct these “poor plan­ning,” and also crit­i­cized the de­ci­sion to place bro­ken yel­low lines on the high­way near these in­ter­sec­tions. Bro­ken lines in­di­cate to driv­ers that they can pass when the way is clear.

“ The res­i­dents that live in the area de­serve bet­ter in­ter­changes, es­pe­cially the exit for the Car­bon­ear hos­pi­tal be­cause it’s an un­be­liev­ably busy in­ter­sec­tion and it’s at the bot­tom of two hills. The speed limit is re­duced to 70, but I have never seen a car do 70 there.”

Strong said mak­ing a left turn at a t-in­ter­sec­tion is “prob­a­bly the most dan­ger­ous ma­neu­vre you are ever go­ing to make in any driv­ing sce­nario.”

Pho­tos by Terry Roberts/The Com­pass

There’s a sign at the North River in­ter­sec­tion, ad­vis­ing mo­torists not to make u-turns. But tire marks at the ramp lead­ing south is proof that many mo­torists are ig­nor­ing this law.

The t-in­ter­sec­tion at Spa­niard’s Bay is just one area of Vet­er­ans Me­mo­rial High­way that causes con­cern for a driv­ing school owner/op­er­a­tor in Bay Roberts.

Lynn Strong of Strong Driv­ing in Bay Roberts has been in the driver ed­u­ca­tion busi­ness for many years. She says Vet­er­ans Me­mo­rial High­way is in des­per­ate need of up­grades.

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