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.