Fa­tal ac­ci­dent on TCH sparks de­mand for ex­ten­sion of di­vided high­way


As the province mourns the deaths of four peo­ple in a twove­hi­cle col­li­sion over the week­end, many mo­torists say it’s time the di­vided sec­tions of the Tran­scanada High­way were ex­tended.

“(The di­vided high­way) should be right across the is­land,” Cody Mercer told The Telegram Mon­day. “It cer­tainly would pre­vent a lot of ac­ci­dents be­cause you wouldn’t see th­ese head-on col­li­sions.

“It’s nerve-wrecking driv­ing with traf­fic com­ing to­wards you, es­pe­cially in bad weather.”

Mercer, who works in Long Har­bour, was one of hun­dreds of mo­torists de­layed due to the fa­tal TCH col­li­sion that hap­pened Sun­day evening be­tween Long Har­bour and Bellevue.

All three peo­ple in one of the ve­hi­cles — a 41-year-old man, a 35-year-old wo­man and an eightyear-old boy, a fam­ily from Con­cep­tion Bay South — died in the ac­ci­dent when their SUV, which was head­ing east, crossed the cen­tre line into the west-bound lane. An 18-year-old wo­man — the driver of the other SUV, who is said to be from the Burin Penin­sula — is also dead as a re­sult of the col­li­sion that hap­pened on the TCH near the Chapel Arm exit at around 5 p.m.

A 16-year-old male, a pas­sen­ger in the SUV with the 18-year-old wo­man, was crit­i­cally in­jured and was taken to hos­pi­tal in St. John’s.

Mercer knows that stretch of road well. With the di­vided high­way stretch­ing only from St. John’s to Whit­bourne, there’s been a few close calls, he said.

“It’s a bad spot,” he said. “There are lots of turns and the roads have ruts. There’s a lot of po­ten­tial for hy­droplan­ing. There are no guardrails in one place there, ei­ther, and there’s one spot where you’re just six or eight feet from the water.

“You get peo­ple pass­ing and it can be scary.”

Melissa Royle was in one of hun­dreds of cars caught up in the long line of traf­fic that was de­layed in both direc­tions for hours due to the ac­ci­dent.

The St. John’s lawyer, who was driv­ing back from Trin­ity af­ter a week­end out­ing, said con­sid­er­ing the tragedy, the de­lay was the least of their con­cern.

But she agrees some­thing must be done with the con­di­tion of the high­way.

“It’s a dan­ger­ous stretch of road af­ter the di­vided high­way ends,” said Royle, who trav­els the TCH a few times a month. “Many driv­ers stick to one side of the lanes to avoid the water-filled ruts.”

Royle said the roads were wet at the time, as it had been rain­ing much of the week­end.

The cause of the crash has not yet been de­ter­mined. The in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the in­ci­dent is con­tin­u­ing.

Trans­porta­tion and Works Min­is­ter Steve Crocker was trav­el­ling Mon­day and was un­able to com­ment.

How­ever, a state­ment is­sued by the depart­ment said, “The Depart­ment of Trans­porta­tion and Works ex­presses its con­do­lences to the fam­i­lies of those in­volved in the tragic ac­ci­dent this week­end.”

Re­gard­ing the po­ten­tial road projects, “a project of this na­ture would be con­sid­ered as part of gov­ern­ment’s multi-year infrastructure plan. The first year of this plan was re­leased in March 2017.

While a TCH di­vided-high­way ex­ten­sion has not been iden­ti­fied this year as one of the projects se­lected, the plan is up­dated every year.

Pub­lic con­sul­ta­tions will take place later this fall to help in­form the gov­ern­ment re­gard­ing the iden­ti­fi­ca­tion and se­lec­tion of po­ten­tial projects.

“The depart­ment re­minds all mo­torists to drive to posted speed lim­its and weather con­di­tions at all times to help en­sure the safety of them­selves and other trav­ellers,” the depart­ment state­ment said.

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