Tuesday, July 17, 2012

UNNERVING NEGLECT: CRACKS, HOLES AND PRAYERS

The revelation by CBC News that last week’s “surprise” sinkhole on the Trans-Canada Highway in Terra Nova National Park may have been preventable, is shocking news for the motoring public.

Fortunately no one was hurt when a 20-foot deep hole developed in the  highway near the Warden's office of the Park. Traffic was closed on both sides of the highway while repairs were made.

It turns out that Public Works and Government Services Canada prepared a report for Parks Canada following Hurricane Igor, which indicated that over 40 culverts in the park were in poor condition and needed to be replaced. One of these was near the site of the sink-hole!

The TCH running through Terra Nova Park is not the only stretch of highway in the province that should be of concern to users of the highways and byways that make-up this provinces transportation network. Despite provincial government expenditures of almost $200 million in repairing and replacing bridges across the province since 2004,  a freedom of information request by The Telegram has exposed that  the majority of the province’s bridges are in fair or poor condition. In fact, more are in poor shape, than good! 

The Auditor General has been keeping tabs on the poor inspection and repair record. In 2003, the A.G.'s report cited problems with the province's bridges based on a 2001 report. At that time 80 of the province’s  715 bridges were in poor condition, 226 were fair, 349 were good, 54 were not rated. 

According to the information acquired by The Telegram, 168 are now considered to be in poor condition! Unless a bridge makes the news, details of the inspections aren’t publicly available, so the traveling public have no idea what condition the bridges they travel over are in. I can only speculate to the condition of the thousands of culverts that are part of the provinces transportation network.

The governing conservatives, who are presiding over the most prosperous era ever experienced by any provincial government, are blaming the bridge issues on the Liberal governments of the 1990's. There certainly is a ring of truth to that, however they have had two administrations. two premiers, a half dozen transportation ministers and a decade to deal with it!

Considering the natural resource windfalls and the $4 Billion in cash that the government is currently sitting on, why have they not invested more on inspections, repairs and establishing transparent reports for residents of the province to view about the conditions of the bridges.

What about the Billions of dollars both levels of government extort out of drivers in gas taxes that are supposed to be redirected to maintain roads? The amount certainly eclipses what the province has spend on road infrastructure since 2004.

In this province consumers are charged sales taxes on top of provincial andfederal gas taxes. Even more money that should be going to our roads. With over forty cents tax a liter of gasoline, plus increased costs for registering vehicles,  I think we should expect a lot better than bass the buck and the blame. 

Makes one wonder what has been learned since the Commission of Inquiry into Hormone Receptor Testing and public safety? Yet again governments are knowingly sitting on an avalanche of neglect, thankfully no one has had to pay with their lives at this point! 

Government's have to pick priorities, obviously road safety is not as important as hording cash, hiring friends and strategic planning.

These are cases of government neglect, that without the diligence of the media might remain neglected until such a time as there was a serious incident that claims a life.

Government should be erecting signs along the highways that read "Say your prayers" as driving along our highways demands a leap of faith!











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