CROQUE/BOAT HARBOUR, N.L. – Frustrations are rising with conditions of two off-road highways on the Great Northern Peninsula.
In both Croque and Boat Harbour, residents are starting to speak out about the state of the dirt roads leading to their towns.
Route 438, the road that leads to Croque, branches off of route 432, from just outside of Main Brook.
It is 19 kilometres long.
Croque woman Elizabeth Kearney says the town has been complaining about the road for a number of years, but this spring, it is the worst she has ever seen it.
“There’s more sticks up through it, the bedrock is up through it, culverts are sticking out, there’s pools of water running across the road and its riddled with potholes from one end to the other,” she told the Northern Pen. “It’s the worst it’s ever been.”
The situation is hardly better on the 10 kilometres heading to Boat Harbour, from Cook’s Harbour, on route 435.
Boat Harbour man Wallace Woodward says it usually takes seven to eight minutes to get to the town from Cook’s Harbour.
But because vehicles have to slow down so much going over the road’s potholes, it now takes about a half hour.
He says the road is washed out and it’s peppered with potholes.
“You buy a new vehicle and in a couple years, you got to do all kinds of maintenance on it,” he said.
Both residents say grading for their respective roads isn’t helping much.
According to Kearney, it's now helping to expose the wooden boards laid down decades ago that government later built the road over.
“I guess the grader is after hooking them (the board) or something and hauling them through, because there’s nothing there,” she said.
Kearney knows that paving would cost too much, especially for a town of just 50 people.
But she believes the Croque road needs to be ditched, built up with about two-to-three feet of topping, have new culverts put in and have a few of the turns taken off.
“Whether it’s 50 or 50,000 people here, we still need a half decent road to go about and do our business,” she said.
For Boat Harbour, a town of about 17 people, Woodward also says there needs to be topping put on the highway.
“It has to be upgraded, it’s no good to grade it because as soon as we get rain, it’s back in the same condition again,” he said.
But even when they just need it graded, he says they have to contact their MHA Christopher Mitchelmore to get it done.
Furthermore, they need signage.
“There’s a couple blind hills where there used to be signs,” he said. “A couple turns.”
He says it caused an accident last year when it was foggy, and a driver missed a turn. There was no sign to warn of the upcoming turn.
For drivers, the situation is becoming dangerous.
Woodward says there’s people travelling for work, including a teacher who has to travel it every day to get to her class.
And there’s a young boy who has to travel for frequent hospital visits, he says.
Kearney also stresses the danger of having a road in such poor condition.
She says the community has three children who have to travel the road to go to school.
And by the time they get to school, she says they have upset stomachs from the journey.
Moreover, her husband, Raymond, recently had a major back surgery. One day last week, she says, they had to travel to the clinic with him.
“He was three days, couldn’t make a move, because of the beating he got from the truck going over the road,” she said.
Croque residents have set up a Facebook group, titled “The Road Less Gravelled – Croque – The Capital of the French Shore” and are circulating a petition with the hopes of having MHA Christopher Mitchelmore present it in the House of Assembly.
Kearney says if nothing is done by the end of the summer, they plan to go to the House of Assembly to protest.
The Northern Pen contacted the Department of Transportation and Works regarding the situation with the two highways but never received a response prior to deadline.