St. Anthony -
Conche is dubbed "the beauty spot of the north," although residents say the road heading out there is anything but.
The 20-something kilometres of Route 434 are riddled with ruts, sharp gravel and potholes that frequently claim tires and wheel rims. Some residents fear it will claim a life.
"Sometimes I wonder if that's what the government is waiting for before they do anything," said Conche resident Daphne Song.
"It's almost like they're waiting for a really bad accident to happen, and with the road the way it is, it's only a matter of time. The only reason we all survive is because we know where most of the potholes are."
Song said she won't drive on the road most days, even though all the services she needs - banks, hairdressers, large stores - are down the road in Roddickton. But Charlene Kearney and Vicki Reardon-Kearney don't have the choice to stay home; they both work in Roddickton and have to make the 52-km round trip each day.
"We have to drive on that road day in, day out, and it's absolutely terrible," said Reardon-Kearney.
"The conditions get worse every year. There are holes there that go the entire width of the road pretty much, and that's the other danger - that people are going every which way to try and get around the holes.
"The government wants us to promote tourism out here but there's no way anyone's going down that road once they see the state of it. It's a disgrace, it is," she said,
Kearney said residents have been asking the provincial government for years to do something about the problem, but they've been ignored.
"We don't feel as though the concerns of the community are being legitimately addressed by the government at all. You can't just keep on sending a grader out twice a week and expect the road to get better," she said.
The problem for Kearney is larger than the issue of her own commute.
She and her husband, Chris, own one of the two small stores in the community and are forced to drive to Roddickton to pick up deliveries because companies refuse to send their trucks down the road.
"The only truck that will come down that road is the beer truck and they'll only come down once a month," said Chris Kearney.
"The bottom line is that the road is unsafe. It's dangerous. The highway department need to pave it (and) I'll tell you, with the money they've spent on the grader coming in, they could've paid for it to be paved by now."
Conche Mayor Gary Carroll said the road was upgraded in 2007 and there was a verbal agreement with the government that it would then be paved. But that agreement never came to fruition.
"They did a marvelous job of blasting through and upgrading it, but the problem is that they never finished it, so what was the point of upgrading it in the first place?" Carroll said.
"We're trying to promote tourism, trying to get things going in this community, but come on - you have to give us a fighting chance. We're not the only community in rural Newfoundland having trouble, but this is the 20th century. It's ridiculous having a gravel road like that in this day and age."
But it doesn't look like there's an end in site for the dusty, gravelled road into Conche or the potholed, chip-sealed road through the community.
Transportation Minister Tom Hedderson, told The Northern Pen recently that $5.8 million had been poured into the road since 2004 and other problem roads on the Northern Peninsula would take priority.
"It's on our priority list and naturally we'd like to see it paved and finished ... but I don't have to tell you that there are other priorities in the region," he said.
"I've met with the mayor of Conche, and we had a very productive meeting, but we're guided by a budget and we have to look at the best management of our dollars and be as fair as we can be, and right now the cross-country road from Plum Point to Roddickton is in terrible shape.
"We'll certainly try to get the road to Conche paved as soon as we can, but I don't like to make promises we can't deliver on. We're trying to get to the roads in the communities as quickly as we can, but I've been very frank and open with the people of Conche."
Meanwhile, Hedderson said the department would keep the gravel road "up to the standard of a good gravel road" by sending in the grader and keeping calcium on the road.
Carroll said Conche has waited long enough.
"The minister has said we're a priority, but what the exact definition of 'priority' is I couldn't tell you, because it seems like we've been a 'priority' for years, but we always get bumped back. We need that road paved but it's all just falling on deaf ears," he said.
"I think all roads ministers should have to go out to each district with their own vehicle and drive the road every day for a week and see if they still have the same opinion. We keep on making phone calls, keep going to meetings, and keep on being ignored."