Pynn’s Brook resident frustrated by government’s lack of concern for safety

Diane Crocker dcrocker@thewesternstar.com
Published on August 12, 2014
Ron Gordon stands near his driveway in Pynn’s Brook. Residents of the local service district have to make a left turn in their driveways from a passing lane on the Trans-Canada Highway in a 100 kilometre per hour speed zone.
Star photo by Geraldine Brophy

Ron Gordon wonders if he’s entitled to safe access to his home as well as anyone else in Newfoundland.

His frustration is palpable.

Gordon and many other residents of Pynn’s Brook, a small local service district on the Trans-Canada Highway just east of Pasadena, have to make a left-hand turn to enter their driveways when approaching from the east.

Not an uncommon occurrence for many homeowners, but in Pynn’s Brook they have to do it in a passing lane, crossing over a double yellow line.

“When you’re in a passing lane, you’re out there to pass,” Gordon said. “You’re not doing 100 (km/h). You’re doing 120 or 130. You’re passing the car doing 100. And I’m stopped in that lane,” he said.

Over the years there’s been lots of near misses, accidents and even deaths.

Gordon has been pushing for some time to have the speed limit in the area lowered from 100 km/h to 80 km/h, or to change the passing lane to a turning lane. He said speed limits have been lowered in places like Bishop’s Falls, Grand Falls-Windsor, Badger and Glenwood/Appleton, so why not Pynn’s Brook.

There have been letters and petitions, but according to Gordon no suitable answers or action.

The latest reply he got from Transportation Minister Nick McGrath in July, to a letter he sent Premier Tom Marshall in April, has Gordon very upset.

In the letter, which Gordon provided to The Western Star, McGrath outlines the rationale of the government for not lowering the speed limit saying that it’s been the department’s experience that reduced speed limits do not measurably increase safety.

“Speed limits that are artificially low are frequently ignored by drivers who travel at a speed at which they are comfortable,” reads the letter. “Accidents that occur in areas with reduced speed limits are often the result of the mix of those drivers abiding by the posted speed with a small number who continue to drive at higher speeds.”

Well Gordon has a few things to say about what he calls “stupid answers.”

“Isn’t the onus on the government if someone is speeding to stop it,” he said. “... You tell me what I’m doing when I’m out in that lane making a left turn coming to my home. Am I doing low speed or high speed?”

In the letter Gordon wrote in April he also suggested providing breaks in the double yellow lines for private driveways. But McGrath said that would not be done and the province would review and consider providing the breaks in the double yellow line at public roads when the highway is repainted next summer.

An interview was requested with McGrath, but was not provided.

Instead, the department sent an emailed statement that reiterated much of McGrath’s letter to Gordon.

“The department acknowledges that finding a long-term viable solution that will increase the safety of the residents of Pynn’s Brook while at the same time respecting the need to maintain the level of service presently provided by the TCH (Trans-Canada Highway) through the community is a challenging balancing act,” said the statement.

The statement also makes reference to the increased signage and said the work is included in a soon-to-be-awarded contract and will be completed this summer or early fall.