Cof­fee and truck­ers cre­ate traf­fic con­cerns in Port aux Basques

Res­i­dents say it’s a haz­ard

The Gulf News (Port aux Basques) - - FRONT PAGE - BY ROSALYN ROY

Each day, as Ma­rine At­lantic fer­ries pull into port at Port aux Basques and dis­charge their pas­sen­gers, the traf­fic flow through town in­creases.

A lot of that traf­fic is in the form of trac­tor trail­ers — 18- wheel­ers bring­ing goods into the prov­ince.

Lately, those trac­tor trail­ers have be­come a prob­lem for Port aux Basques driv­ers.

The prob­lem is they stop for cof­fee, at the Tim Hor­ton’s on High Street, at the edge of town, just be­fore the Trans-Canada High­way (TCH).

It’s their last chance to get cof­fee or a snack for the next 100 kilo­me­tres.

To get to the cof­fee shop, how­ever, driv­ers have to park their trucks on the side of the road, at the bot­tom of the high­way on-ramp, to walk across the TCH to get their or­der of java be­fore head­ing out on the road.

Lo­cal cit­i­zens say it’s a haz­ard.

The topic prompted a heated dis­cus­sion on so­cial me­dia — on the Port aux Basques Open Fo­rum Face­book page — a few weeks ago when lo­cal res­i­dent Greg Baker posted a photo of trans­port truck parked on the on-ramp.

Res­i­dent Ash­ley White was one of the com­menters; posting that when truck­ers park at the bot­tom of the high­way on­ramp, she is un­able to prop­erly check for on­com­ing traf­fic be­fore merg­ing.

“One night in par­tic­u­lar, you had one parked on the ramp it­self and an­other just down be­low, and you could barely squeeze through. I couldn’t see over my shoul­der to see if any­one was com­ing up the high­way,” she com­mented.

Add win­ter winds and blow­ing snow to the mix, and res­i­dents say the haz­ard in­creases.

Gor­don Musseau was an­other Face­book com­menter.

“An­other thing wrong with it is even af­ter you come off the ramp and go to merge onto the TCH, be­cause of the turn that is there the trucks block your vi­sion to see if any­thing is com­ing.”

There were lots of ideas thrown around in the dis­cus­sion: from set­ting up a cof­fee out­let at the ferry ter­mi­nal, to cre­at­ing a park­ing area and cross­walk with lights, to set­ting up a truck stop (with cof­fee) closer to the main high­way, near the old weigh scales.

Todd Strick­land is the act­ing mayor of Port aux Basques.

He told TC Me­dia the town coun­cil is mon­i­tor­ing the sit­u­a­tion and agrees there is cause for con­cern.

“The issue is one that has been ad­dressed by coun­cil to the lo­cal RCMP de­tach­ment, which they are go­ing to mon­i­tor and try to get a han­dle on,” he said.

Con­sta­ble Matthew Christie, su­per­vi­sor of the Port-aux-Basques de­tach­ment, says while they are aware of the sit­u­a­tion, the po­lice haven’t re­ceived any re­cent com­plaints about the trucks parked along the ramp.

“It’s dif­fi­cult be­cause we’re the en­try port to the prov­ince, and ev­ery morn­ing and ev­ery evening, as­sum­ing the boats are on sched­ule, we have a full boat load of traf­fic that’s be­ing un­loaded and headed east on the high­way, and many of those folks stop at Tim Hor­ton’s to get a cof­fee,” the of­fi­cer said.

While he ex­pressed sym­pa­thy for trans­port driv­ers, he does agree that there is very lit­tle room to park and it could pose a risk.

“I can un­der­stand peo­ple’s con­cerns,” Christie said.

The truck driv­ers could be tick­eted un­der the High­way Traf­fic Act for park­ing on the road­way or im­ped­ing the vi­sion of other driv­ers.

One com­menter on the Open Fo­rum Face­book page sug­gested the po­lice could as­sign a cruiser to that area when the ferry is of­fload­ing.

“It is of­fi­cer dis­cre­tion as to whether or not a charge is laid,” ex­plained Christie, “and the fac­tors that come into play are go­ing to be in­di­vid­ual de­pend­ing on the sit­u­a­tion.”

He does en­cour­age con­cerned cit­i­zens who spot a cur­rent safety haz­ard cre­ated by a parked truck to call the de­tach­ment and ask them to in­ves­ti­gate.

“If we see a truck park­ing in such a man­ner that it’s ob­struct­ing the flow of traf­fic or the view of traf­fic, then I think that we would very se­ri­ously give con­sid­er­a­tion to lay­ing a ticket and lay­ing a charge in that re­gard,” said Christie.

ROSALYN ROY/TC ME­DIA

Truck driv­ers com­ing off the ferry at Port aux Basques usu­ally stop to get a cof­fee at the first cof­fee lo­ca­tion in New­found­land. The prob­lem is, they have no place to park ex­cept on the side the high­way; caus­ing con­ster­na­tion — and a haz­ard — for lo­cal driv­ers.

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