Not enough traf­fic for pass­ing lanes

As­sis­tant deputy min­is­ter sug­gests there’s op­tions to im­prove safety on Veteran’s Memo­rial High­way

The Compass - - Editorial - BY AN­DREW ROBIN­SON editor@cb­n­com­pass.ca

There are not enough ve­hi­cles trav­el­ling on Veteran’s Memo­rial High­way to merit the cre­ation of a pass­ing lane, ac­cord­ing to a se­nior of­fi­cial with the Depart­ment of Trans­porta­tion and Works.

Joe Dun­ford, as­sis­tant deputy min­is­ter for the depart­ment, at­tended the March 23 Con­cep­tion Bay North Joint Coun­cil meet­ing, held in Bri­gus. Joint coun­cil sent a let­ter to Trans­porta­tion and Works Min­is­ter Al Hawkins fol­low­ing its pre­vi­ous meet­ing in Har­bour Grace, where a lot of dis­cus­sion about Route 75 took place.

“In re­cent years, nu­mer­ous fa­tal­i­ties and other se­ri­ous mo­tor-ve­hi­cle ac­ci­dents have oc­curred on Route 75,” the joint coun­cil wrote in a let­ter signed by chair­man Gor­don Power. “The pri­mary cause of these ac­ci­dents was speed, and in some cases a lack of pass­ing lanes. Route 75 is highly trav­elled by com­muters and oth­ers every day, and near misses and ac­ci­dents are com­mon place.”

While it might be a well-trav­elled high­way, traf­fic on Route 75 does not ap­par­ently meet the stan­dards for ne­ces­si­tat­ing pass­ing lanes. Dun­ford said the na­tional stan­dard set by the Trans­porta­tion As­so­ci­a­tion of Canada is 10,000 ve­hi­cles per day. Ac­cord­ing to Dun­ford, Veteran’s Memo­rial High­way has in the vicin­ity of 5,000-6,000 ve­hi­cles ac­cess­ing it daily.

“It doesn’t quite meet the thresh­old for pass­ing lanes, but there are cer­tainly other things we can do if you do feel there are safety is­sues there or is­sues that you think need to be ad­dressed or I think that should be ad­dressed,” he said, not­ing it could be worth­while to dis­cuss the mat­ter with lo­cal RCMP de­tach­ments. He said a traf­fic safety au­dit han­dled by his depart­ment is one such op­tion that could be looked at.

Joint coun­cil trea­surer Ge­orge Sim­mons, who is also a re­tired RCMP of­fi­cer, was sur­prised by the fig­ures given by Dun­ford on traf­fic and ques­tioned whether they re­flect cur­rent traf­fic vol­ume.

Dun­ford said he was not sure of the ex­act year for those num­bers, sug­gest­ing they could orig­i­nate from any­where within the last three-to five years. He in­di­cated the depart­ment could look at get­ting a new traf­fic count for Veteran’s Memo­rial High­way com­pleted within the next two months.

Gov­ern­ment will start some mill and fill work this year on the high­way, and Dun­ford ex­pects that will con­tinue into 2018 and beyond. Gor­don Power ex­pressed his frus­tra­tion with the lack of funds for other pro­vin­cial roads over the du­ra­tion of the depart­ment’s

As we role through the plan, we will up­date each year ac­cord­ingly.

— Joe Dun­ford

re­cently re­leased five-year plan.

Dun­ford noted the plan only cov­ers a por­tion of the work that will be com­pleted over the next five years. For ex­am­ple, in the cur­rent 2017-18 fis­cal year, the prov­ince has out­lined 100 per cent of the work planned. That fig­ure drops to 75 per cent for the next one and con­tin­ues to drop for sub­se­quent fis­cal years, with only 25 per cent of spend­ing ear­marked for each of the fi­nal two.

“The beau­ti­ful thing about that is it does pro­vide us with flex­i­bil­ity for emerg­ing is­sues in a re­gion,” he said. “As we role through the plan, we will up­date each year ac­cord­ingly.”

Har­bour Grace Mayor Terry Barnes was adamant that the depart­ment needed to fix up the Con­cep­tion Bay High­way through his town. The road, known as Har­vey Street, is “get­ting worse,” with Barnes ad­ding coun­cil hears about it every day from res­i­dents.

“It’s get­ting ridicu­lous,” he said.

AN­DREW ROBIN­SON/TC ME­DIA

Joe Dun­ford, right, is the as­sis­tant deputy min­is­ter for Trans­porta­tion and Works. He at­tended the March 22 Con­cep­tion Bay North Joint Coun­cil meet­ing in Bri­gus. Seated next to Dun­ford is Clarke’s Beach Mayor Betty Moores.

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