Nearly 10 months after a high speed, hit-and-run collision sent 69-year-old Charles Bourque to hospital with serious injuries, drivers are still travelling well over the 60 kmh speed limit on Pond Shore Road, according to a retired teacher who lives there.
“I was out at the bus stop with my grandkids this morning and there was a truck that went by, I’m sure he was doing over 90k,” Don Gouthro said during a telephone interview last week.
Gouthro, who has been complaining about excessive speeds for more than a decade, says that after he raised the issue during a council meeting in January, the town installed a radar sign that shows drivers heading toward Midgic how fast they’re going, but it hasn’t made much difference.
“If I’m down alongside the road waiting for the school bus, I notice that some cars do actually slow down when they see their speed is over the limit, but for the most part, I don’t think it has much effect on most drivers; they just continue at whatever speed they were travelling at before the sign displayed it,” Gouthro says.
He tried to raise his concerns during last Tuesday’s online town council meeting, but was unable to be heard during the question period because of technical problems. Journalists and other members of the public weren’t able to ask questions either, but the town has promised to respond as quickly as it can to questions I submitted on Thursday.
Meantime, Gouthro says he’s especially worried about the safety of the children who live in the area.
“We have at least a dozen kids in the neighbourhood who would be middle school aged and elementary age,” he says.
“My grandkids live on the opposite side of the road. They cross over to come to our house and other kids as well use the road, so it’s not just the school bus pickup that’s a concern, it’s just the general concern of the kids in the neighbourhood with the speeding cars.”
Gouthro points out that Mount Allison University students regularly jog along Pond Shore Road and it’s also a route that bicycle riders travel.
Town sends letter
Former Mayor John Higham responded to Gouthro’s concerns in January by sending a letter to the New Brunswick Department of Transportation (DTI) asking the province to lower the speed limit to 50 km/h on Pond Shore Road, which is part of Rte. 940, a provincial highway. He also asked DTI to install better road signs such as ones alerting drivers to school bus zones.
Then-DTI Minister Bill Oliver replied that he had forwarded the town’s request for a speed reduction to DTI’s Operations Branch for review.
“It is important to note that speed limit evaluations are completed under ideal road conditions; therefore, it will likely be spring/summer before an evaluation can be completed,” Oliver’s letter added.
Gouthro says that after he appeared before town council in January, the RCMP set up a couple of speed traps in the area and that’s when he noticed drivers began slowing down.
However, he says the Mounties have returned to drive-by patrols that don’t have much effect.
“I see the RCMP driving by and then two minutes later I see a car going like 83 or 84 kilometres (per hour) up the road behind them.”
Gouthro says he asked the police for more speed traps as recently as two weeks ago when he called to report a car travelling at 93 km/h.
“I asked them at that time if they would come up and set up a speed trap and they just simply told me that school is back in session and that they have other priorities, school zones and things that they had to look after, and they just didn’t have time do it.”
High speed, hit and run
Meantime, Charles Bourque, who lives nearby, says he’s still suffering from arm, back and neck injuries as a result of a collision last December 23rd.
He says he was turning left into his driveway at the crest of a blind hill when he was hit from behind by a pick-up that sent his car careening off the road into a wooded area as the truck driver sped away.
The RCMP say the collision is still under investigation and no one has been arrested in connection with it.
Bourque says he’s still getting medical treatment for whiplash as well as pain in his arm and back. He’s also seeing a neurologist partly because he sometimes has difficulty picking things up or even holding a cup.
“I’m retired now,” he says, “so I just tinker around the house, but when things start bothering me, I just stop that’s all there is to it.”
To read previous coverage, click here.