Work underway to realign 'death trap' Gander intersection

Work crews are nearly finished upgrading a busy Gander intersection that has seen dozens of accidents and years of complaints.

Changes finally coming after years of complaints, accidents

A number of serious and fatal accidents have taken place at the intersection between Magee Road and the Trans-Canada Highway in Gander. (Chris Ensing/CBC and File)

A Gander intersection that has been called a "death trap" is just weeks away from receiving a major upgrade.

Road crews appear ready to lay down a new stretch of pavement between Magee Road and the Trans-Canada Highway.

A new turning lane is also under construction to ease traffic at the town's busy intersection.

But that's not enough for one mother who lost her son to a crash at that site.

"It's not going to solve the problem," said Brandi Calder. "This here is a start. That's all I can say about it."

The new intersection will include a turning lane separate from the Magee Road entrance to the Trans-Canada Highway. (CBC)

Magee Road has seen several serious accidents. In 2008, eight-year-old Rorry Calder was killed after his car collided with a transport truck.

"I hate this intersection. It's a death trap," said Brandi Calder, who was in the car at the time of the accident. "Every time I [drive through here] I'm just waiting for the next one."

Rory Calder was killed in a 2008 traffic accident in Gander, just two days before his ninth birthday. His mother says he was funny, honest and an 'old soul.' ((CBC))

Coun. Gerry Parrott, who leads the town's engineering committee, said council has been asking for changes for the past four years.

He said many drivers have difficulty seeing traffic travelling straight through the intersection, heading west on the Trans-Canada Highway.

"It is [really that bad] if you're not used to the intersection," he said. "You have to be really careful entering the Trans-Canada from Magee."

'It's not closure'

The new turnoff, a few metres ahead of the main intersection, will divert some traffic heading into Gander away from the main intersection in an effort to improve visibility for other drivers.

The $150,000 project is expected to finish in July, and the Department of Transportation said in a statement it will "help ensure safety and promote improved traffic flow."

Coun. Gerry Parrott, left, and Brandi Calder, right. Calder says much more needs to be done to the 'death trap' intersection. (Garrett Barry/CBC)

Calder said what's really needed at the site is an overpass, or more medians.

"If Lewisporte can have it, and their town is way the heck down the road, if they can have an overpass there, and if Grand Falls can have the overpasses and all the [medians] and all that, why can't Gander have something?" she said.

You can't put a price on a life. There's not enough money.- Brandi Calder

A traffic study conducted by the provincial government in 2015 said the intersection did not warrant a set of traffic lights.

That study also caught drivers flying through the intersection at 148 km/h; the posted speed limit is 60 km/h.

Calder said nothing should be spared if it means reducing accidents. She said she still struggles with the death of her young son, who would have graduated from high school this year.

"I know what they're talking about; it's the lake, the expense, the golf course. That's crap. You can't put a price on a life, there's not enough money," she said.

"If it means saving a life, save the life." 

The speed limit on the Trans-Canada Highway through Gander is 60 km/h, though many zoom by much faster. (Garrett Barry/CBC)

While Parrott admits the new turnoff might not be "the best" solution, he says he's willing to see how it works.

"If we got to do something else, or pressure the provincial government into doing something else, council will do that," he said.

About the Author

Garrett Barry


Garrett Barry is a CBC reporter based in Gander.