Tom and Bridget Rose have shared a home on Kitchen’s Hill in Harbour Grace since 1975 and say the safety issues on their road have been ongoing for years.
They admit the water and sewer work and paving planned for the road is greatly needed but they are not happy there are no plans to change how the road is structured. They say the town should address safety issues surrounding blind turns on the road.
“We’ve been at this with regards to petitions and letters since 1992,” Bridget told The Compass, seated at her kitchen table.
The Roses own two adjacent homes towards the top of the hill. One of them is very close to the road, with its deck almost touching the edge of the pavement. The couple said there have been multiple incidents where vehicles have hit that property, which has been used as a rental but has been vacant since last spring. Water runoff has also made soft road shoulders a problem.
The Roses see problems with travellers coming down the hill into a blind turn next to their property. There’s another blind turn close to where Kitchen’s Hill intersects the Newfoundland T’Railway.
The Roses want the town to take a portion of their land to eliminate the turn by their property. This, they say, would get rid of the blind turn and make for a safer road. They also contend this idea was in development based on designs a consulting engineer prepared for the town in 2016. One page the Roses provided to The Compass, listed as Drawing 6 of seven from Harris & Associates, shows two lines to form a road going over the edge of their land. Another, however, listed as Drawing 4 of seven, does not.
The Roses purchased the rental property next to their home in 2005. They contend the town changed an initial plan to take their land.
“If it wasn’t a problem, why would it be drawn to be changed?” Tom asked. “Everybody knows there’s a problem, because we’ve been fighting for it for the past 30 years.”
In a recent letter to the town, the Roses warned if damage occurs on their property due to the structure of Kitchen’s Hill, they are prepared to take legal action against the town for negligence.
“We’re after seeing that many accidents there over the past years that it’s not even funny,” Tom said.
A $1.1-million tender was awarded last year to Platinum Construction Company for the water and sewer upgrade on Kitchen’s Hill. That work is expected to begin this spring, with paving to take place after the upgrade is finished.
The Roses believe the fresh pavement will encourage drivers to zip up and down the road at increased speeds, exacerbating the safety issues.
Mayor Don Coombs says he knows the situation with Kitchen’s Hill well. He said the project was approved by the previous council in 2016. Coombs, a multi-term mayor, was not a part of that council and said checked with the town’s consulting engineers when the matter was brought to his attention.
“All I can say is it’s gone to tender and Mr. and Mrs. Rose want some changes done with it,” he said. “A councillor suggested that we meet with the Roses and explain to them … Municipal Affairs is not doing that. Their engineers approved it, as have ours.”
As for their concerns about the blind turns and the possibility of drivers traveling faster on fresh pavement, the mayor said the design is ultimately the engineers’ call.
“The road is desperate. The previous council had the wisdom and did a good job on lobbying to get the money to get it done. It’s been an issue for a number of years.”