New ramps to Lewin Parkway not concerning, says minister

Gary Kean gkean@thewesternstar.com
Published on July 4, 2014

Ken Kendall is concerned it’s only a matter of time before there is a serious accident near the Lewin Parkway overpass on the Trans-Canada Highway west of Corner Brook.

The provincial Department of Transportation and Works is in the process of putting the finishing touches on twinning the highway through the area.

Part of the project has included the reconfiguration of the on- and off-ramps between the arterial route and the highway. As motorists leave the Lewin Parkway with the intention of heading east on the Trans-Canada Highway, they will find the exit from the highway and the entrance to the on-ramp immediately next to one another.

In the past few weeks, Kendall said he has seen a number of vehicles incorrectly entering the off-ramp and ending up driving west in the eastbound lane of the highway.

“On June 13, I met four vehicles going westbound in the eastbound lane,” said Kendall, who added that he called both the RCMP and the Department of Transportation and Works.

Earlier this week, Kendall said he managed to stop a truck pulling a trailer doing the same thing.

“I spoke to an ambulance driver who said he has seen it happening and I have a friend of mine who said he did it himself,” said Kendall.

There was some signage indicating vehicles were going the wrong way earlier this week. When The Western Star went to check out the intersection Thursday afternoon, a crew from the Department of Transportation and Works were in the process of putting up more signs in the area.

One large sign on the Lewin Parkway telling drivers to keep going straight to go to Massey Drive or to take a left to go east on the Trans-Canada Highway has been moved so it is now directly in front of the proper exit instead of just before the incorrect one.

“If people take that wrong turn in the nighttime or when it’s foggy, someone is going to get hurt or killed,” said Kendall. “If people who are from here can’t figure it out, I’m sure tourists will be lost.”

Transportation and Works Minister Nick McGrath said he has no concerns about the design of the intersection, saying it is a normal layout for on- and off-ramps and is up to code. He was unaware of any calls received by the department, expressing concerns about the intersection being hazardous.

McGrath expected traffic will flow properly once the job is completed.

“It’s still very new and the lines are not yet painted on the pavement,” said the minister. “We’ve been very proactive making sure we had proper signage up.”

The signs posted in the area are at a lower eye level so they are more easily seen by regular traffic, noted McGrath.

There will be more signs erected until the project is completed to help people navigate through safely.

McGrath could not say when the area will be painted with directional signage on the road itself. He said crews have started to paint, but will be focused on the Trans-Canada Highway first.

“Once the line painting is done, it should make a huge difference,” said McGrath. “Hopefully, when they see a big white arrow pointing one way, they will know they aren’t allowed to go the other way.”