For the last three years, I have been a voice for the community of Conche when expressing concerns over our deplorable road conditions. From newspaper articles to the Open Line show, letters to MHAs, Facebook groups, you name it. However, the progress made has been nil.
In recent weeks, I have read articles and letters submitted by residents of Roddickton-Bide Arm and Englee. It is evident the Department of Transportation (and Works) is not servicing the needs of our community. The community of Conche was recently fortunate enough to have pavement laid on one road in town after the chip seal that was laid several years ago went to ruins. It only took three years to have the roads repaired and paved. It was a constant battle with highways to get the holes filled to keep the roads in satisfactory condition.
The town council also invested in the chip seal project to ensure all of the town’s roads were kept in good condition. Here is the issue. The chip seal was useless and did not last after the first winter. Little by little, it eroded and filled with huge potholes.
Therefore, the money invested by our town council was basically wasted. Now, after three years, the government finally brings in the paving crew to pave only the six kilometres of highway they are responsible for. Given that Conche is such a small community, and the fact that only a few years ago they made a huge financial investment in the chip seal project, it was near impossible to come up with funds to pave the portion of the road they are responsible for.
If the government realized the chip seal was indeed unfit, then why wasn’t the Town given back what it had invested? At least then we may have had the opportunity to secure money for pavement.
The main road in the community where our post office, local store and community wharf is located is still riddled with huge potholes. It is a very unattractive site for residents and visitors. On top of all this, there is still the issue of gravelled roads from Conche-Roddickton. In order to be connected to the rest of the peninsula, we must travel over gravel roads, and filled in areas with loose crushed stone. When it rains, potholes are a nightmare, and in summer the dust is blinding, not to mention dangerous enough that sometimes you have to pull to the side of the road to let people pass, especially when tractor trailers are using the road regularly to bring products to and from the local fish plant.
Having said that, our fishplant has been going full swing over the last month with workers travelling from Roddickton and Englee. It’s unfortunate that one must have to travel over such poor road conditions to earn just a little above the minimum wage. The same is true for those of us who travel to Roddickton for work on a daily basis. Flat tires, dented rims, broken windshields, damaged struts, you name it – all at our own expense, simply because our government is not willing to provide the financial assistance to pave the road in its entirety.
We are only talking approximately 17 km of pavement. It’s a one shot deal, when it’s done it’s done. Instead, a grader is put on the road at least once a week, often damaging the road more so that doing any good.
By the concerns voiced in other communities, they too are being neglected. The highways depot in our area was also closed back in 2005 during the summer months. This makes no sense whatsoever since summertime is the best time to get road work completed.
Now, someone from Flower’s Cove has to cover the area. Conche saw how well that worked, when a few summers ago men were sent out to fill in the holes in the chip seal. Day-one saw about four holes filled. Seeing that Flowers Cove is almost a two-hour drive each way and they travelled only on work time, it didn’t allow much time to complete roadwork. Guide rails have been damaged over the winter and often these are never repaired. There are also areas on the road from Conche to Roddickton that desperately need to have guiderails installed for safety reasons, but it is not done. As a taxpayer in this province, I feel it is shameful on the part of our government to be turning a blind eye to the deplorable road conditions on the Northern Peninsula. There is always millions of dollars each year distributed for road work and infrastructure in urban centres of the province. However, my community just waited over three years to have six km of pavement when we are only asking for about 26 in total. “Dribs and drabs” is all we get. It’s high time for the government to realize that there are people who live beyond St. John’s. Our communities may not be big population wise, but we are still residents of Newfoundland, who deserve all the modern day luxuries that some people simply take for granted, pavement being one of them.
I am wondering, with the new monies allotted for municipal infrastructure ($130 million in Budget 2012 People and Prosperity), will our municipality see any of this?