A retired teacher warned Sackville Town Council last night that people’s lives are in danger because of excessive speeding on Pond Shore Road near Silver Lake.
“We fear that it’s going to be a tragic accident that occurs if something is not done,” Don Gouthro said.
He appealed to council for help in persuading the province, which is responsible for the road that is part of Rte. 940, to reduce the speed limit from 60 kmh to 50 and to install signs warning of hidden driveways and school bus zones.
He also asked council to push the RCMP for more frequent patrols as well as radar speed traps on the stretch of road between Uphill Drive and Mount View Road.
“There’s a lot of young children who stand here in the morning and afternoon to get on and off the school bus,” Gouthro said during an interview outside his home at 81 Pond Shore Road.
He pointed out that the neighbourhood is home to 18 children ranging in age from about three to 13.
“Our biggest concern is the safety of those kids right now,” he said.
“It’s scary. It’s a scary area.”
High-speed, hit and run
Gouthro pointed to a high-speed collision on December 23rd that sent a 69-year-old neighbour to hospital suffering from severe shoulder and back injuries, cracked ribs and whiplash.
The victim, Charles Bourque, says he was turning into his driveway at the crest of the blind hill when he was hit from behind by a pick-up that sent his car careening off the road as the truck driver sped away.
“I just passed out,” Bourque adds. He woke up with his car wedged between trees and a power pole.
“When a fireman come to the car and tapped on the window, he said, ‘Do you know who you are?’ I said ‘yeah I know that.’ ‘Do you know how you got here?’ I said, ‘no,'” Bourque told Warktimes.
“Next thing I remember is them putting me in an ambulance.”
Narrow road, heavy traffic
Meantime, Don Gouthro is circulating a petition among his neighbours calling for change.
In the draft of a letter he may send to town council, Gouthro writes that fully loaded, tandem logging trucks travel Pond Shore Road during times of the year when there are no weight restrictions while at least one construction company uses it to get access to a gravel pit.
His letter points out that a guardrail runs alongside the road for 800 metres beside Silver Lake in an area frequently used by university students who jog and bike there.
“The width of the shoulder of the road from the guardrail to the pavement’s edge is barely able to accommodate the width of an average baby stroller,” the letter says, adding that foot traffic is often forced to use the paved roadway because the shoulder is at times overgrown with weeds or clogged with snow while sections of the opposite shoulder are either washed away, strewn with rocks or overgrown with weeds.
Gouthro told town council last night that when he complained about road safety 10 years ago, the province removed the blind hill warning sign apparently because it wasn’t politically correct, but did nothing else.
Acting Mayor Ron Aiken said that when town council called on the province to change the speed limit about 10 years ago, provincial officials said no.
“It’s a provincial road and it’s their jurisdiction,” he said.
At his suggestion, council passed the following two resolutions:
Moved by Councillor Michael Tower and seconded by Councillor Andrew Black that council prepare a letter to the New Brunswick Department of Transportation and Infrastructure (DTI) and the Member of the Legislature (MLA) requesting that the speed limit on Route 940 Pond Shore Road be reduced from 60KM to 50KM to the town limit and that DTI install proper signage in the area.
Moved by Councillor Michael Tower and seconded by Councillor Bruce Phinney that council make a request to the RCMP to increase patrols on Route 940.
Meantime, Sgt. Paul Gagné says the RCMP is aware of speeding in various parts of Sackville including Rte. 940.
“We do make patrols there quite a lot already,” he said during a telephone interview, adding that the police are especially vigilant during times when children and other vulnerable people are present.
Gagné adds that it’s always good when people report speeding issues so that police can follow up.
“We go to areas where we’re asked to,” he says.
He also encourages people to report habitual speeders and identify their vehicles so that the RCMP can visit them.
“People don’t necessarily recognize that they’re going over the limit,” he says.
He also says the RCMP have launched a criminal investigation into the hit-and-run collision on December 23rd, but so far, no one has been charged in connection with the crash.
For his part, Charles Bourque says that over the years, he’s signed several petitions calling on the province to change speed limits and install warning signs, but nothing ever happens and he’s afraid nothing will.
“It’s just like a raceway all the way from the bridge at the lake to Midgic,” he says.
“They have to do something or somebody’s going to get killed.”