Large pot­holes hot topic

Car­bon­ear and govern­ment dis­pute re­spon­si­bil­ity of large pot­holes

The Compass - - FRONT PAGE - BYMELISSA JENK­INS Melissa.jenk­ins@tc.tc

The provin­cial govern­ment and the Town of Car­bon­ear ap­pear to be in a dead­lock with who is re­spon­si­ble for re­pair­ing deep and plen­ti­ful pot­holes that are on Highroad South, just out­side the town bound­aries.

A boundary dis­pute has de­vel­oped be­tween the Town of Car­bon­ear and the prov­ince’s Depart­ment of Trans­porta­tion and Works over a de­te­ri­o­rat­ing road at the town’s north en­trance.

Those who have driven Highroad North over the past year would have no­ticed the ev­er­grow­ing pot­holes de­vel­op­ing in the as­phalt on a sec­tion of road roughly 100 me­tres long.

Some driv­ers have said it re­sem­bles a mine­field, and they want it fixed.

Town ad­min­is­tra­tor Cyn­thia Davis and Brian O’Grady, di­rec­tor of pub­lic works, stated dur­ing the April 22 reg­u­lar town coun­cil meet­ing the sec­tion of road is not within town bound­aries.

The Depart­ment of Trans­porta­tion and Works dis­agrees. In an email to The Com­pass, depart­ment spokesper­son Scott Bar­foot said the re­spon­si­bil­ity of main­tain­ing the road is that of the town.

“De­part­men­tal of­fi­cials have had dis­cus­sions with the mu­nic­i­pal­ity on Highroad North. The most re­cent com­mu­ni­ca­tion was in fall 2013. Highroad North is not a provin­cial road — as such, the Depart­ment of Trans­porta­tion and Works is not re­spon­si­ble for the win­ter or sum­mer main­te­nance of it,” Bar­foot wrote.

A map of the mu­nic­i­pal­ity re­ceived from the Depart­ment of Mu­nic­i­pal Af­fairs tells a dif­fer­ent story.

The colour-coded map shows the town shaded in brown. The road dam­age is out­side it, be­gin­ning at the in­ter­sec­tion with Route 70.

Route 70 is main­tained by the govern­ment, and in win­ter, depart­ment heavy equip­ment oper­a­tors plow it.

In the pol­icy man­ual for trans­porta­tion and works win­ter main­te­nance op­er­a­tions, it states:

“The Depart­ment of Trans­porta­tion and Works Roads Trans­porta­tion Branch has full re­spon­si­bil­ity for snow clear­ing and ice con­trol on all pub­lic high­ways not in­cluded un­der the ju­ris­dic­tion of mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties, other govern­ment de­part­ments, federal de­part­ments or au­thor­i­ties or any law­ful author­ity and pri­vate owned roads. Pri­or­ity of ser­vice is to TCH, school bus routes and turn­arounds dur­ing days schools are op­er­a­tional, main high­ways, sec­ondary high­ways and lo­cal roads in that or­der.”

Road barely driv­able

Coun. Brenda Trick­ett dis­cussed the stretch dur­ing the meet­ing, not­ing she re­ceived sev­eral com­plaints about car dam­age and un­safe driv­ing con­di­tions.

It is com­mon to wit­ness ve­hi­cles swerv­ing to miss the large, deep holes. But lately there have been ac­counts of mo­torists driv­ing on the nar­row dirt-cov­ered shoul­der.

“The shoul­der is bet­ter than the road,” Trick­ett stated.

Town of­fi­cials sent pho­tos of the road and a copy of the bound­aries to the depart­ment last fall.

There are no houses be­yond those bound­aries on Highroad North, but there is a stor­age fa­cil­ity and ditches on each side of the road.

Town main­te­nance

Town work­ers have patched some of the re­ally bad pot­holes this year. How­ever, the patch hasn’t held, and holes are big­ger than be­fore.

Start­ing at the boundary most pot­holes are ei­ther patched or as­phalt re­placed. Once past it, all the holes are too large to do a tem­po­rary fix.

The town’s heavy equip­ment oper­a­tors have plowed the road this win­ter to al­low ac­cess for lo­cal traf­fic and am­bu­lances, but only if the provin­cial oper­a­tors hadn’t com­pleted them. Bar­foot con­firmed this. “In win­ter, the Town of Car­bon­ear plows down to the in­ter­sec­tion of Highroad North and Route 70 and in the sum­mer it has placed some as­phalt in pot­holes that formed,” he said.

O’Grady stands by the de­ci­sion to have his work­ers do what needed to be done if the govern­ment re­fused to main­tain the road. But he said it was for the safety of res­i­dents trav­el­ling the road, and not in­tended as a per­ma­nent fix.

He ex­plained town of­fi­cials would keep work­ing to­wards hav­ing the provin­cial govern­ment fix the road, be­cause it can no longer be patched. It must now be re­placed.

Davis said she would con­tact them again for an up­date.

O’Grady did con­firm sea­sonal work­ers have been called back to work to fix pot­holes in the rest of the town, but would not be fix­ing the Highroad North sec­tion.

Avoid­ing pot­holes

A Com­pass re­porter drove to the road April 25 to see how driv­ers were get­ting around the pot­holes.

Most pulled into the op­po­site lane to pass them, while a pickup truck slowed down to go through them.

One ve­hi­cle came to a dead stop to wait for on­com­ing traf­fic be­fore go­ing around them.

A driver pulled over to ask if the re­porter had dam­aged her car driv­ing over the de­te­ri­o­rated road.

“Some­thing needs to be done,” the fe­male driver ex­claimed.

Photo by Melissa Jenk­ins/the Com­pass

The ac­cess road to Car­bon­ear through Highroad North has nu­mer­ous pot­holes that have de­te­ri­o­rated so much, ve­hi­cles are com­pletely avoid­ing that sec­tion of the road.

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