White stuff stirs stormy debate
Council has solution, but what’s the problem? councillor
A debate about whether to reclassify a street dominated the March 7 meeting of the Town of Carbonear. And in the end, members of council passed a motion to change London Road from a “collector street” to a “ local street A” on the town’s snowclearing classifications.
The change did not sit well with Coun. David Kennedy, who cast the lone vote against the motion. He doesn’t appreciate the change, which effectively sees London Road move from Priority 1 to 2.
Kennedy suggested, “ we tried to find a solution to a problem that didn’t exist.”
According to the town’s priorities for street widening, collector streets are defined as, “the network of streets that connect various community areas with the commercial areas and ... the provincial road network. They carry medium to large volumes of traffic at medium speeds.”
A local street A can also act as a collector street, but takes second place behind collector streets on the priority list. The list prioritizes streets during severe conditions and street widening operations only. The priority system is not used during regular snow clearing routes when roads are being cleared after a snowfall.
Kennedy said he was “amazed and perplexed to see new snowclearing routes designed and implemented for the 2010-2011 winter (season) before councillors had seen the route.”
Kennedy felt “ we should justify doing it, especially when there are consequences for residents.”
Public works director Brian O’Grady told The Compass afterwards there should be no consequences for anyone because, as far as he is concerned, the movement of London Road from collector to local street has had no bearing on the priority it is given for snowclearing.
Begs to differ
When councillors were given copies of the snowclearing routes on Feb. 7, Kennedy said he noticed they were somewhat different than those presented in November 2009.
Kennedy said “London Road had gone from first on its route in the 2009-10 season to last in 2010-11.”
In fact, he pointed out, “this year’s route is the reverse of last year’s as the loader (now) progresses from Industrial Park to Forest Road and then to the London Road area.” He noted the plow used to enter London Road from Powell Drive and proceed west towards Columbus Drive. He suggested there was a trade-off between London Road and Forest Road.
O’Grady felt Kennedy was implying the town was favouring the For- est Road area by plowing it first. “ That’s not the case,” O’Grady said, adding, “ we have always cleared the Forest Road area before the London Road area.” He said no routes have been reversed.
On Feb. 9, Kennedy noted, “ London Road did not get a cut until 8:30 a.m. and some lanes were not completed until approximately 10 a.m.” On the same day during what Kennedy described as “perhaps the biggest snowfall this winter, the civic centre parking lot was plowed completely by 7:15 a.m., yet many roads were left snow covered until almost dinner time.”
O’Grady explained that was a onetime occurrence.
“ While the sand truck operator was waiting for the plow operator to clear a road on the north side of town, before he could sand it, I asked him to make a few passes through the civic centre parking lot.”
O’Grady admitted snowclearing was slower than normal and London Road was late being done on Feb. 9. But, he said, “ it had nothing to do with any route changes and all to do with the volume of snow.”
Referring to London Road, Mayor Sam Slade said, “ for that street not to be open by 11 or 12 in the day is not acceptable.”
Kennedy contended, “this council does not feel London Road is a collector road, so they put forward a motion to change it to a local road. Having it labelled as Priority 2 justifies changing the route of the loader so that London Road could go from first to last on its route.
O’Grady said London Road has not been moved from first to last on its route; in fact, he said, no routes have changed.
Not good enough
“Not starting London Road before 4:30 a.m. after a 20 to 30 centimetre snowstorm was not good enough and was nothing short of ridiculous,” Kennedy suggested.
“So now council is trying to please the residents of London Road by having a dump truck attempt to cut through London Road and it’s adjoining lanes.”
Not wishing to see piles of snow coming off the wing of the equipment and blocking all lanes on the north side, Kennedy said he argued against one cut through London Road. He said he also argued for London Road to be completed on the north side, but to have the lanes joining Pondside Road to be done as the loader progressed (along the street).”
Now that council has decided to plow London Road with a dump truck, Kennedy wants to know “what happens if the dump truck cannot open the road due to drifts or it is continuously called to sand hills in the town. Residents of London Road will have to wait for the loader which cleared the roads in early morning last year until council’s preferred routes are completed.”
Since no one had any problems with snowclearing in the 2009-10 season, Kennedy would like to know, “why did the routes have to change?”
Mayor Slade said at no time was it council’s intention to see London Road used as a scapegoat to enhance snowclearing in other areas.
“ Bu t why w a s i t c h a nged? Kennedy shot back.
Coun. Ed Goff suggested, “ you have to give (the public works director) a chance” to prove the system works.
Town administrator Cynthia Davis said, “since the last storm, we haven’t had enough snow to test whether it’s working or not.”
By sending a dump truck with a wing plow to start London Road at 5 a.m., London Road residents should see an improvement, said O’Grady.
Davis explained the only reason London Road’s classification was changed was because “it didn’t fit the strict definition of a collector street. But that doesn’t change how we clear snow for it.”
From left: Siobhan and Amanda Butt, Cassie King and Kendra Kelly take a break from their busy schedule of sliding and having fun to enjoy their juice and cookies, courtesy of Dominion. Siobhan Butt slides down the hill at the southside playground while her mom, Tina, looks on from above. They were among the large crowd of children and parents who took advantage of the snow and ideal weather conditions to enjoy a winter’s afternoon of outdoor fun as part of the town’s annual Winter Carnival.