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Letter: Road conditions on Route 70 and Route 75

['Vehicles navigate Veterans Memorial Highway overlooking Harbour Grace on a wet Friday morning.']
['Vehicles navigate Veterans Memorial Highway overlooking Harbour Grace on a wet Friday morning.']

I am not writing this to be arrogant, blatant, or cantankerous.  I am an innocuous person who believes we deserve better and it is far past the time to publicly discuss the road conditions of Conception Bay North (CBN).

Since my first visit to St. John’s, I have frequently enjoyed the slow drive on the single lane highway of scenic Route 70 and Route 60 from my home to St. John’s. Today the drive to St. John’s, with the recent addition of Route 75, Veterans Memorial Highway, takes less time, however, it is far less scenic. 

If Route 75 was constructed to quicken the drive from CBN to the Trans-Canada Highway (TCH) and points beyond, then Transportation and Works and Minister Al Hawkins needs to closely monitor the condition of the highway. 

Besides the expected holes and bumps that appear every spring, there are more alarming conditions causing drivers greater stress than simply avoiding holes or bumps. They are blatantly clear to those who drive over this highway in the spring, as the thin asphalt breaks and leaves craters that demand drivers to quickly brake. 

It is risky, even dangerous, to maintain a comfortable driving speed without a foot ready to hit the brake as the holes tend to appear with, and without, posted notice.

There are 12 bridges and overpasses from my home to the TCH via Route 70 and Route 75. It is far too presumptuous to expect the entry and the exit over these bridges and overpasses to be a smooth and pleasant experience. 

Several are constructed of cement, with a thin asphalt coating, attempting to create a smooth highway. However, far too often this asphalt breaks and creates a rough entry and exit for unsuspecting drivers. 

Besides the damage this causes motor vehicles and the risk of a motor vehicle accident, this is despicable and makes drivers antsy. A come from away (CFA) driver may not realize why the automobile in front nearly comes to a screeching halt approaching one of our bridges and overpasses and this same CFA may have choice words to describe the driving habits of our drivers on Routes 70 and 75.

The worst overpass on Route 75 is the final overpass as a driver nears the TCH. It has been in the same dangerous condition for years; the asphalt has separated from the cement structure, leaving large, rough areas to meet automobiles as they decelerate to approach the off ramp to the TCH. 

Many drivers from CBN avoid this rough area of the highway by changing into the opposite lane. This is not shenanigans or chauvinist; it is the common practice of many CBN drivers who exit Route 75 east towards St. John’s. This is a dangerous practice that may lead to a head-on collision. 

Of all the bridges on Routes 70 and 75, the bridge going southwest from Salmon Cove to Victoria has to be the worst. Even driving below the posted speed of 50 km/hr, drivers brake quickly as they approach and exit the bridge; I have often witnessed near accidents as a car brakes and the following car nearly rear-ends it. 

To make my concern known, I have in the past emailed the PC Minister of Transportation and Works and received a meaningless reply email that explained the reason for the poor condition of the bridge. More recently I emailed Hawkins, however, I have yet to receive a response.  

After my second email I did receive a telephone call from a government employee who informed me that the only provincial money budgeted for 2017 construction season for Route 70 is a replacement bridge nearing Spout Cove. Disappointing!

The engineer or government official who signed the paperwork at the end of the construction or paving of a bridge or overpass needs to be more cognizant of the work. Government members who award contracts for road and bridge work need to write stricter guidelines for the specifications of the construction so that things have warranty to stay in better condition for a longer time. 

Furthermore, when a voter brings their concerns to the attention of a minister of our elected provincial government, that minister should remember how they got there.

 

— Harold Peach writes from Salmon Cove

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