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