Nfld. & Labrador

Province open to lowering speed limits on parts of Veterans Memorial Highway

Steve Crocker says reducing the speed limit on a section of Veterans Memorial Highway could happen, but says more consultations are needed.

Transportation minister says speed limit changes may help, but drivers ultimately responsible for safe roads

Veterans Memorial Highway, or Route 75, has been the scene of several road deaths since this summer. (Terry Roberts/CBC)

Newfoundland and Labrador's transportation minister says reducing the speed limit on a section of Veterans Memorial Highway could happen, but more consultations are needed before any changes are made.

We make to make sure we do it right and that it increases safety.- Steve Crocker

Steve Crocker attended a meeting Thursday night with the Conception Bay North Joint Council to discuss ways to reduce crashes on Route 75, which saw four road deaths in less than a month recently.

He said his department has flagged areas that are considered accident "clusters," with the Jamie's Way turnoff to Harbour Grace being a major one — especially with increased traffic there due to the new Harbour Grace civic centre.

Steve Crocker, Newfoundland and Labrador transportation minister, says his department is open to changing speed limits on a section of Route 75. (Paula Gale/CBC)

Crocker is open to lowering the speed limit there, but said more discussion is needed before the 100km/hr limit is reduced.

"That's certainly something where we would be looking for cooperation or consensus from the joint councils and other groups, such as the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary," he said.

"We're going to go back and have a look at it again, because there were some concerns raised, and we want to make sure we address those concerns before we move forward with any changes."

Other suggestions

At the meeting, other suggestions were put forward on how to get drivers to slow down, including line-painting changes to eliminate current passing lanes, building a whole new physical lane for passing and additional enforcement.

Changing the speed limit is something the department could act on quickly, but Crocker said widening the road to build a new passing lane would take much longer.

"That is something that would be further down the road because it takes time and there would be substantial construction costs," he said.

Emergency responders on the scene of a fatal collision on Veterans Memorial Highway last September. (Janelle Kelly/CBC)

Crocker said some people at the meeting did express concern about lowering the speed limit on too long of a stretch of Veterans Memorial Highway, as it could create a bottleneck in some areas — creating a whole new set of traffic issues and safety risks.

While all the suggestions about changes are welcome, Crocker said it's important to consider all options before going ahead with a change. He also said ultimately the responsibility to make the roads safe falls on the drivers who use them.

"A lot of the problems we are seeing here are driver habits and the fact that all drivers need to keep safety first and foremost in their minds."

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Geoff Bartlett

Contributor

Geoff Bartlett is an educator and journalist in Corner Brook.

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