Coffee and truckers create traffic concerns in Port aux Basques
Residents say it’s a hazard
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.
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.