Trans-Canada reroute critical, says safety expert
The province has no choice but to reroute a section of the Trans-Canada Highway for safety and legal reasons, says a traffic safety expert.
The province plans to spend $16 million, with half that money from the federal government, to rebuild a six-kilometre stretch of Route One from Bonshaw to New Haven.
The road is dangerously outdated, said traffic safety engineer John Robinson, who was hired by the province to study the highway.
"Collision rates are about 56 per cent higher than they are for the overall distance between Borden and Charlottetown," said Robinson.
Some residents have voiced concern at public meetings, saying they don't want a new highway. They want the existing road improved.
But Robinson said that's not an option.
"When you deal with the Trans-Canada, there's a very specific set of design standards that we have to live within," he said.
"We can't step outside that because it puts people at risk. It puts the department at risk and it puts the engineers who stamp the drawings at risk."
Trucker Joe Goeseels said he knows a dangerous stretch of road when he sees it and the Trans-Canada west of Charlottetown fits the bill.
"I've seen a few cars here went off the road, people killed. Myself, I've spun out on the hill here and my trailer ended up in the ditch."
The P.E.I. Trucking Sector Council endorses the highway reconstruction saying it will save lives some day.
The council notes the plan, as it now stands, does bypass a park in the area. Government changed its plan, to avoid Strathgartney Park, after residents complained.
While some say the best solution is to simply reduce the speed limit, truckers have their doubts.
"To say to slow down is OK, but then we can't make the hills here. You know, they're quite steep," said Goeseels.
On average, 7,000 drivers use this stretch of road every day.
Government now has a legal responsibility to go the extra mile to make it safer, said Robinson.