Poor road conditions

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Dear editor, I left home in 1978 and went to Manitoba to work in mines.

Three summers prior to that I worked with Department of Transportation, and back then I was with the survey department getting roads ready for pavement. It was good to see road improvement around the little communities, and (the department) keeping up with times and putting tax dollars to good use.

This is my second winter back I call home, and I’ve travelled the road from Gander to Musgrave Harbour quite a bit. I can’t believe how the condition of the roads has gotten so bad over time, and how the roads are looked after in the winter time.

I have a camp on Aspen Cove/Ladle Cove branch, and I travel back and forth night time, day time, summer and winter. I remember one day I left camp 10:30 to drive home in morning, and if I didn’t have four-by-four, I would not have made it home. No one had made an attempt to plow road.

Another time at my camp, from which I can see the road, drive to and snowblow from main road to if necessary, it started to snow. It was 4 p.m., and you could hear the plow banging and the scrapping the pavement with its front and side plow. Sparks were flying when it passed my camp. Anyway, from start of the snow at 4 p.m. until to 8 p.m., the plow travelled two times out to Aspen Cove/Ladle Cove, and I only used a broom to sweep off my bridge at camp. It was summer-day road conditions and we hadn’t had snow in three days. When traffic went by you could see dust flying off the road. To my surprise coming from my camp, I had to slow down to let the plow truck out of the sand pit the one before Carmanville. I was going slow enough I looked up into the cab to observe a little closer, and to my surprise there was what I’ll call a co-pilot also in the truck. He was so comfortable he didn’t know if it was day or night.

This winter, I spent some time smelt fishing in Main Point, and, like a lot of other people out on the ice, we had a good surrounding view. Anyway, it was like a warm summer’s day, with no snow in two or three days, but I heard a banging loud noise and it was the plow to my surprise. That day I was surprised three times to see the truck travel and cover every mile of road to the end of Main Street and Harvey’s Lane in same day.

I talked to a resident who lives up Harvey’s Lane, and he said he was stuck because of snow for three days one time, and couldn’t get out the lane as it was not plowed.

Someone said the roads have to be checked everyday, but can’t we check it with a cheaper vehicle like a pickup truck. The area that has to be looked after I think you can look out window you can see if it’s white or wet. I’ve seen many a times that expensive plow truck travelling the main highway when it’s not needed.

I’ve seen it leave Carmanville on a dry road — again no snow in the past three or four days — go to Wings Point, and go back to Carmanville, fuel up, and go park for next call out or next day.

Why is it sometimes when the plow is on the move, it doesn’t come up Forest Grove Road in Davidsville and also doesn’t go down Main Street? I think that’s what its called down to the end of Main Point. The first vehicle to travel on these parts of the road sometimes is the school bus, and this shouldn’t be, especially when it comes to safety. It doesn’t look like we are very cost efficient when it comes to doing the job with the resources we have to do snow clearing.

I had a misfortune this past winter when I left from Grove Road, where I live in Main Point/Davidsville, to drive to Gander to the airport to pick up my brother-in-law.

I left at midnight, and at 12:45 a.m., I put my truck off the road. It was very slippery and  -13C. Ninety minutes later I got picked up went to airport to pick up my brother-in-law, stayed in a hotel room, and had to get a tow truck in the morning. I was lucky there no damage to my truck and no one was hurt.

I questioned why road condition were like this, and I was told that the road is closed in later evening hours till morning hours. During this time the department is only on call for emergency vehicles — I was very surprised. I lived in Northern Ontario for 23 years, and if roads were closed due to weather, it was controlled by a police car on both ends of closed road. If you had an accident, you were charged and your insurance wouldn’t cover you.

Well I think I’ve made my point, and that is let’s make some good changes. The roads are not very good to drive on. Do we have to save money somewhere to get fine roads? It’s government money (taxpayers’ dollars).

Do you remember the last polar bear that came to the island. It got a helicopter ride at a big expense. This last polar bear that visited, it had to be shot. I guess we couldn’t afford the ride, so maybe our roads will go back to old days — gravel road. Let’s hope not.

One more suggestion — let’s contract road clearing and maintenance. At the end, government won’t have to pay out big pensions to workers — another way to save money to fix our roads. Everyone is entitled to his or her opinion.

 Ronald Gillingham

Main Point/Davidsville

Organizations: Department of Transportation

Geographic location: Gander, Ladle Cove, Carmanville Main Point Davidsville Forest Grove Road Northern Ontario

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