A dan­ger­ous road

Hop­ing for new pave­ment on the Trans-Labrador High­way this sum­mer

Northern Pen - - Front page - BY STEPHEN ROBERTS

Fa­mil­iar sto­ries of bro­ken rims and busted tires abound once more this spring along the Labrador Straits.

It’s a lit­tle bit like déjà vu. As in other re­cent years, there are nu­mer­ous re­ports this spring of lo­cals dam­ag­ing their ve­hi­cles as they travel the Trans-Labrador High­way (Route 510).

Larry Du­maresque of L’Anseau-Clair told the North­ern Pen he has al­ready lost four tires this spring to Route 510’s many pot­holes.

He lost two be­tween L’Anseau-Clair and the Que­bec bor­der and an­other two be­tween L’Anse-au-Clair and Forteau.

With the “low pro­file” tires on his car, he says he doesn’t have to drive fast to lose a tire to Route 510.

The last tire Du­maresque lost was about three weeks prior to speak­ing with the North­ern Pen.

Lately, he’s been us­ing his truck in­stead of his car to avoid tire dam­age.

He says con­di­tions have im­proved some­what from ear­lier in the spring as a few pot­holes have been filled with coal patch.

But he feels the road is “still not fit to drive on.”

More tire trou­bles

Barry James Buckle of Forteau is an­other per­son who has lost a tire re­cently.

He told the North­ern Pen he was driv­ing back home from Lour­des-de-Blanc-Sablon, Que­bec when he struck a pot­hole that busted his tire and broke a rim.

“In front of the SLDA (on Main Street in Forteau) and there was a pot­hole that I avoided but when I avoided that pot­hole, I ran into a big­ger one,” he said. “I didn’t hear any air hiss­ing out of the tire or any­thing like that, as soon as it hap­pened the tire went flat im­me­di­ately.”

He says his op­tions were to ei­ther drive on the wrong side of the road, hit one pot­hole or hit the other.

Lynette Han­cock of Forteau lost a tire and rim driv­ing off the Blanc Sablon ferry on her way back home on May 6.

She says she was in a line of ferry traf­fic, driv­ing about 50 to 60 kilo­me­tres per hour, in an 80 zone be­tween the Que­bec bor­der and L’Anse au Clair, when she struck a pot­hole.

“There was a car in front of me, and of course I didn’t see the hole,” she said. “When the car went over the hole, I hit the hole. My tire just popped like a bal­loon.”

She es­ti­mates the pot­hole was about a foot deep and says it was very wide.

To re­place the tire and rim, she says it cost over $200.

Han­cock says she also lost a tire and rim last fall.

Work to be done

Last sum­mer, af­ter frus­trated lo­cals staged protests along the high­way, the Depart­ment of Trans­porta­tion and Works de­cided to level cer­tain sections, to­talling 11 kilo­me­tres.

This es­sen­tially added a layer of pave­ment on top of what was al­ready there. Lo­cals say this will not last long-term.

It also left 33 of the 44 kilo­me­tres be­tween Pin­ware and the Que­bec bor­der un­touched, even though the govern­ment’s road plans for 2017-18 in­di­cated that pul­ver­iz­ing and repaving was to be con­ducted from the Que­bec bor­der to Pin­ware.

Some sections of the high­way are worse than ever, as pot­holes cover the road from side-to-side – in those ar­eas, they are im­pos­si­ble to avoid.

All a driver can do is to slow down to a crawl.

Ac­cord­ing to Han­cock, that sometimes means driv­ing 30 to 40 kilo­me­tres per hour in zones where the speed limit is 80.

In other ar­eas, pot­holes are ex­pand­ing in size and the sides of the road erod­ing away.

Dan­ger­ous

Ev­ery­one the North­ern Pen spoke with is in agree­ment that pul­ver­iz­ing and repaving is needed as soon as pos­si­ble. They say cur­rent con­di­tions are dan­ger­ous for lo­cals, and for peo­ple un­fa­mil­iar with the roads, it’s even worse.

“Un­less you’re driv­ing these roads a lot and learn where the pot­holes are, most pot­holes you’re there on top of them be­fore you have a chance to re­act,” said Buckle.

Buckle is also an EMT and says the high­way con­di­tions are dan­ger­ous for am­bu­lance driv­ers and their pa­tients.

“Some­body who’s in crit­i­cal life-threat­en­ing con­di­tions, min­utes can mean the dif­fer­ence be­tween life and death,” he said. “And, I mean, de­pend­ing on where we’re pick­ing up a pa­tient and drop­ping them off to, that road def­i­nitely has an im­pact be­cause we can’t just drive full tilt. That’s dan­ger­ous for us and dan­ger­ous for the pa­tient.”

Project up­date

The Depart­ment of Trans­porta­tion and Works has in­formed the North­ern Pen that a contract has been awarded to Mike Kelly and Sons Ltd for pul­ver­iz­ing and paving where re­quired along Route 510 for ap­prox­i­mately 22 kilo­me­tres.

The state­ment said it would be at var­i­ous lo­ca­tions be­tween kilo­me­tre 1.2 and kilo­me­tre 38.

“The project be­gan this year and in­cludes pul­ver­iz­ing of ex­ist­ing as­phalt and work to re-stabilize the road bed, place­ment of gran­u­lars and new as­phalt, and re­place­ment of cul­verts and guardrails, where re­quired,” ac­cord­ing to the state­ment.

The project is ex­pected to be com­pleted this sea­son.

SUB­MIT­TED PHOTO

Barry James Buckle re­cently busted a tire and broke a rim on the high­way in Forteau, com­mon on the Trans-Labrador High­way this time of year.

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