It’s a strange site to behold, but one Heber Taylor seen before: Rocks of all shapes and sizes are strewn about the driveway of his home along Route 60.
It’s the second time in three weeks the Holyrood resident has had to shovel rocks from his driveway, and he said it’s happened plenty of times in the past as well.
“There were rocks out in the road as well, and you had to go out and pitch rocks off the road,” said Taylor, who surmised that overloaded trucks, probably driving above the posted speed limit of 50 km/h, hitting a large pothole at the crest of a hill are to blame.
Last time, said Taylor, the driver and RCMP helped clean up the mess.
“The truck was overloaded, and coming down the hill he lost some, but he stayed here and helped clean it up. The cops came down and helped with the traffic,” said Taylor.
He said he’s heard reports of people who have had vehicles damaged, and that while a flying rock could do massive damage to a parked vehicle, his biggest concern is that a rock might strike a pedestrian.
“People walk this road. You mean to tell me that wouldn’t kill somebody?” he asked, pointing to one of the larger rocks in his driveway.
It’s larger than a softball, with plenty of jagged edges.
“This is ridiculous. Somebody should have to look after this… something has to be done.”
The question is, by who?
The road, being a provincial highway, falls under the purview of the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure.
Mayor Gary Goobie said that the maintenance work that needs to be done on the highway isn’t getting done.
“At certain times of the year, like during the spring thaw, there’s a couple of sections at Veitch’s Hill that are problematic, and those dips in the road can be quite deep. And unfortunately, in the past, there has been some damage done to vehicles as well. We have communicated that issue with the Department of Transportation ever so long,” said Goobie. “It’s at a point now, that after the last two heavy rainfalls that we’ve had, you can actually see where it’s washing out to the point where it’s underneath the pavement. So, it’s only a matter of time, before the structural integrity of the pavement is going to be compromised. Which means now, it’s not only about repairing the washout on the side of the road, but the pavement is going to have to be fixed. The Department does great work. But they’ve got limited resources. They’ve got a vast area to cover. We get it, we understand that. But it doesn’t make sense to us, that they’re aware that this is a problematic area, year over year over year, when whole sides of the road get washed out. So, we’ve been imploring the Department to, instead of sending crews and dump trucks and everything else two or three times a year, why don’t you do it right? Just filling it in with road gravel is only going to work until we get the next heavy rainfall.”
Goobie said that instead of quick fixes, the road needs solid groundwork done. Council has suggested installation of a swale to help drain excess water. The washouts also pose a safety hazard for pedestrians, he added.
Meanwhile, the Town was warned years ago by the department, said Goobie, not to undertake any work of its own on the provincially-owned road for fear of liability risks.
Despite that, he said, in emergency situations, Holyrood has had to act quickly and do road work on its own.
One such time, said Goobie, occurred some years back when a massive pothole developed on the Town’s south side.
“It was about four feet long, and about three feet wide, and about two feet deep. And it was extremely dangerous,” said Goobie. “I phoned the CAO, and the phoned the Director of Public Works, and explained the seriousness of the situation. People were on the side of the road with damaged tires, this is how big this pothole was. So, I authorized the CAO and the Director of Public Works to send out a crew, which cost the Town money, and we had to go down with cold patch, and within a couple of hours we were able to get that pothole filled in, and mitigate that problem.”
The Town has also done brush cutting, said Goobie.
As to the current issue, Goobie said the next step is to go to the Department again, something it does two or three times a year regarding various sections of highway.
“This is something I’m going to be addressing with council, I as mayor,,” said Goobie. “Normally the mayor doesn’t intervene personally in these kinds of matters, it’s usually left at the discretion of our senior staff, and in this case the Director of Public Works and the CAO, but this time the mayor has to intervene. It’s at a point now where I am going to meet with the regional manager or regional supervisor of the Department of Transportation, do a site visit, and I would like to walk that site with him and say, ‘Look, this is what we would like to see done to mitigate and correct this problem permanently.’
“Quick fixes are good under certain conditions. But when you’re looking at road maintenance, you’ve got to do things properly. And if it means spending a few extra dollars one time only, that only makes perfect sense.”
Mark Squibb, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Shoreline News