Road to the holidays fraught with traffic perils

Dave White
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While it does not get recognized officially until the solstice, this year arriving on Dec. 21, there is no arguing that winter is already here.

God knows we have yet to acclimatize to the cold of late, but, for me, at least, the foot-deep drift accumulated across the mouth of our driveway Sunday past was a clincher.

Windchill factors, snow scoops, slippy roads and talk of the holidays add to the certainty of the season. It is December, after all, so Merry Christmas, everyone!   

Some 20- to 40-centimetres of powdery preponderance forecast to fall upon the Bay of Islands this week will be enough to help meteorologists define a blizzard for beautiful Bay of Islands as winds are expected to pick up to storm force by Friday.

Not good enough

Two snowy weekends in a row have already given some commuters cause to consider that provincial highways personnel responsible seem less aware that people in rural Bay of Islands do work on Saturdays and Sundays, too. Not all work is 9-5, Monday to Friday. Safe passage remains a concern.

The weatherman may have been partly to blame those times. The icy highway conditions encountered by motorists on the bay’s north shore as they made their way to their early-starting day shifts on the other side of the bay was mostly unexpected. In any case, drivers were called to exercise greatest care and caution as drifting in places made navigating the snow-laden Route 440 between Cox’s Cove and Corner Brook difficult and hazardous last Sunday and another morning a lot like it eight days earlier.

As it were, it was just not good enough for the weatherman and the Department of Transportation administrators and their snow-clearing equipment operators, all paid good money to help those other taxpayers tend to their daily obligations.

Caught in a rut, or, two

Adding to the wintertime concerns on the north shore highway are deep ruts sunken into dueling lanes on the hilly ascents and descents of Hughes Brook and Wild Cove, which even in dry driving conditions can buffet and jostle vehicles toward oncoming traffic or off the road, heightening the likelihood of spinouts and probable collisions this time of year.

A petition to the House of Assembly is being circulated on the north shore to highlight the concern there and demanding some greater attention to the problem. Unlikely to get the required treatment the situation deserves until spring, drivers ought remain alert in the meantime, and provincial caretakers need to keep the hills well sanded and salted as an added precaution.

School buses brave gorge

As well, the overhanging section of the north shore highway above McIvers Brook continues a slippery slope slanted and sliding from underneath toward the deep gorge that school buses heading from Cox’s Cove to the regional school in Meadows must traverse daily.  Attempts to fix that problem over the years have yet to arrive at a proper solution to stop erosion on the puggy subgrade.

Nearby, at the Lower Cove intersection in McIvers, a municipal byroad first and last paved when Joey Smallwood was premier of Newfoundland and Labrador, remains one big mess of potholes and washouts that also awaits repair. The lone access route for some three dozen residential properties along its two kilometre path, Lower Cove Road is on the local town council’s list of priorities and will hopefully receive promptest attention before an accident occurs. Neither is any of it easy on the undercarriages of expensive cars, trucks and SUVs that pass through there day and night.

For residents of the north shore, a letter to Santa might simply request the gift of safe travel. All we want for Christmas is our roads fixed up. . . if anyone the front teeth to bite into the problems.

More snow is likely the only gift that might fill in the pockets in what is left of the car-busting jutted pavement into Lower Cove. It is a good thing Santa comes by sleigh.

Dave White welcomes your Bay of Islands news and events information at  688-2003, or email at: 

Organizations: Department of Transportation

Geographic location: Bay of Islands, Lower Cove Road, Corner Brook Meadows Newfoundland and Labrador

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