Paved with good intentions

Emma
Emma Graney
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Conche's road is riddled with ruts

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.

Vicki Reardon-Kearney (left) and Charlene Kearney stand on the side of Route 434 into Conche. Residents are angry about the state of the road into the community. Below, potholes in the community are causing headaches, and flat tires, for many residents.

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."

Geographic location: Conche, Roddickton, St. Anthony Newfoundland Plum Point

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Recent comments

  • patsy
    July 02, 2010 - 13:35

    MR.WILLIAMS,MR HEDDERSON.
    YOU TAKE A GOOD LOOK AT THIS ROAD AND LOOK THE PEOPLE OF CONCHE IN THE EYE AND HONESTLY TELL US YOU WOULD PUT YOUR VEHICLE ON THIS ROAD.WE DONT HAVE A CHOICE OUR HEALTH CENTRE, OUR BANK, GAS STATIONS ETC. ARE IN RODDICKTON AND THIS IS WHAT WE HAVE TO FACE DAILY AND ITS NO PLEASURE TRIP.....THANK YOU.

  • alibean
    July 02, 2010 - 13:32

    I travelled that road for 25 years and it is the same thing every year. The road will never be done unless the political will is there to change it. There has been lots of bad accidents on that stretch of road so waiting for an accident is no excuse.The money spent on it recently was by other governments not this one.If Dannys buddies owned the fish plant there it would have been paved in gold by now but this government is only worried about the St. Johns ring roads and access roads to get us all to their town to spend the outport money and to hell with the rest of you.
    Just look and see where all the federal roads money is being spent and tell me they give a dam about anyone but the people on the avalon. Isn't this in the same district as St. Anthony. This little town is one of the oldest in the Island of Newfoundland with a very rich history but unfortunately it is not close enough to St. Johns to warrent any attention. I can hear Danny and his cronies now where is Conche and who gives a dam .

  • Sheldon
    July 02, 2010 - 13:31

    To Theo from ON:
    You are another ignorant individual who has no idea about the situation the people of Conche have to face on a daily basis while driving over this excuse for a road. The risk of accidents is high on the list of reasons to have this road paved...but it is not the only factor. The damage to the local economy from lost tourism dollars is another major concern. This is a community that is fighting to stay alive by promoting itself as a tourist destination. How are they supposed to do this when the first thing a visitor sees is the horrible condition of the road. As an outsider, I'm sure you would turn around and drive the other way instead of making the attempt to travel to this beautiful town.
    I actually find it quite funny that you would come on here and tell the people of Conche to stop whining about their road. I lived in the Toronto area for eight years...and every spring when the pot holes would come out on your city streets (all two or three of them)...there was no shortage of complaints and whining from the people of Toronto. It would be a common thing to have to listen to on the evening news. If the people of Toronto had to put up with anything close to the condition of these roads...well, lets just say they wouldn't. Come to think of it...you couldn't even deal with a bit of snow up there...had to call in the army. Now that's what I call whining. Have a good day Mr. Theo.

  • Pierre Neary
    July 02, 2010 - 13:30

    To Patsy McGrath:
    Good post. I would like to see the Premier driving his Maserati down Route 434. That would be priceless. Real man of the people that Premier. Just another in a long swathe of broken election promises from Minister Hedderson and the government.

  • Leo
    July 02, 2010 - 13:30

    Leo Nolan, none. ATVs have never been used on the road to Roddickton, and are rarely used within the community. There are only a handful of ATVs in Conche, if that.

  • Theo
    July 02, 2010 - 13:29

    Since it's public knowledge the road is bad and this paper has documented evidence of everyone saying such, there should be no accidents at all now because everyone is aware of the situation. Try getting up for work earlier and leaving at the proper time to compensate for the road/weather conditions, that's what us big city folk do. If you people drive off that road or have accidents with each other on that little road, you would never survive driving through major traffic to work in downtown Toronto. We all have our obstacles and we must deal with them. Do you see people from Toronto asking for traffic to be removed from our highways to make it faster and easier for a priveleged few to get to work ? Whine, whine, whine. DRIVE MORE CAREFULLY if you want to avoid accidents. You already know the road is bad, you've just said so.

  • William
    July 02, 2010 - 13:27

    To Theo in TO; You have missed the boat! It's not traffic or the # of cars, it comes down to SAFETY and the price of repairs. You stated the people of Conche whine, well sir look in a mirror, the folks in your province have been known as WHINERS for as long as I can remember.
    To the People of Conche and other places in NL that have POOR roads, next Election time ,stay home and refuse to vote, cause your Gov is not listening any how. If your member is not PC than your out of luck.

  • clifford
    July 02, 2010 - 13:26

    as a fomer resident of conche i feel we have been betrayed by the nl goverment of its promise to pave the conche road. its a disgrace to havr to travel over such a treachous road. my god its 2010 where are you people who hold goverment positions living that you cant see the conditions of these roads. we have been driveing that road since the early 70s .its now 40 th years latter and you say we are whiners . yes its been upgraded why not complete it. why keep on wasteing money on grading when it defeat the puspose . simple answere pave it everyonre is happy and it dosent cost so much money every year to keep up.come on you people who represent us lets get action pave conche road now not much later. keep up the fight you people of conche at home and those living away give your suppoet to your community. lets all get behind conche residentsand get a road that is not a disgrace to look at thank you

  • Ashley
    July 02, 2010 - 13:23

    Theo, why not come take a drive on our roads in your car or truck and see how long it lasts. The road conditions in Toronto are way better then they are in Conche, even if there is more traffic. The speed limit going over the road to Roddickton is 60 km/h and while driving over 2/3's of this road we can only drive 20 or 30 km/h if that. Maybe if the people of Toronto drove more carefully then there would not be as many accidents there now would there!

  • CAROLYN
    July 02, 2010 - 13:22

    As long as were on the subject of paved roads i think the road to Placentia & Whitbourne should be paved the roads are really bad especially after the grader upgrades it you got to stop and pick up the big rocks that are left on the roads so you won't hit your base pan i know a family from Toronto came home one summer for a visit on the way back home they struck the base pan from the rental unit they had, they had to call a tow truck to come and get them, now the tourist season is up on us they visit the Cataracts they got to travel over the dirt road i think our goverment should step up and pave those roads for the sake of about 20 kms.

  • Leo
    July 02, 2010 - 13:22

    I wonder how much damage is being caused by ATV's?

  • Brad
    July 02, 2010 - 13:21

    Theo from ON.....The 401 is a dangerous highway as most of your province is aware, yet hundreds of lives are claimed on it each year. Does that make you and your fellow residents morons??? Or, does it mean that dangerous road conditions exist, and we can only hope our governments recognize it and do something about it for the safety of those involved.

  • andy
    July 02, 2010 - 13:20

    Theo - you Big City Folks
    I would like to have you drive on our roads, Potholes or no potholes, snow or no snow
    you get 2 inches of snow in the BIG CITY and everything comes to an abrupt halt, get 3 inches and you declare a national emergency.
    A word of advice IF YOU'VE NEVER BEEN THERE TO EXPERIENCE IT FIRST HAND THEN MAYBE YOU SHOULD KEEP YOUR OPINIONS TO YOURSELF
    As for priveledged drivers, If the series Canada's worst drivers is an indication of the drivers you have in Ontario, then yes, the people from the BIG CITY should ask to have traffic removed from the highways or at least take a hard look at your driving instructers who pass these people on their driving exam.
    All we are asking is to have, what the rest of Canada take for granted

  • patsy
    July 01, 2010 - 20:25

    MR.WILLIAMS,MR HEDDERSON.
    YOU TAKE A GOOD LOOK AT THIS ROAD AND LOOK THE PEOPLE OF CONCHE IN THE EYE AND HONESTLY TELL US YOU WOULD PUT YOUR VEHICLE ON THIS ROAD.WE DONT HAVE A CHOICE OUR HEALTH CENTRE, OUR BANK, GAS STATIONS ETC. ARE IN RODDICKTON AND THIS IS WHAT WE HAVE TO FACE DAILY AND ITS NO PLEASURE TRIP.....THANK YOU.

  • alibean
    July 01, 2010 - 20:21

    I travelled that road for 25 years and it is the same thing every year. The road will never be done unless the political will is there to change it. There has been lots of bad accidents on that stretch of road so waiting for an accident is no excuse.The money spent on it recently was by other governments not this one.If Dannys buddies owned the fish plant there it would have been paved in gold by now but this government is only worried about the St. Johns ring roads and access roads to get us all to their town to spend the outport money and to hell with the rest of you.
    Just look and see where all the federal roads money is being spent and tell me they give a dam about anyone but the people on the avalon. Isn't this in the same district as St. Anthony. This little town is one of the oldest in the Island of Newfoundland with a very rich history but unfortunately it is not close enough to St. Johns to warrent any attention. I can hear Danny and his cronies now where is Conche and who gives a dam .

  • Sheldon
    July 01, 2010 - 20:20

    To Theo from ON:
    You are another ignorant individual who has no idea about the situation the people of Conche have to face on a daily basis while driving over this excuse for a road. The risk of accidents is high on the list of reasons to have this road paved...but it is not the only factor. The damage to the local economy from lost tourism dollars is another major concern. This is a community that is fighting to stay alive by promoting itself as a tourist destination. How are they supposed to do this when the first thing a visitor sees is the horrible condition of the road. As an outsider, I'm sure you would turn around and drive the other way instead of making the attempt to travel to this beautiful town.
    I actually find it quite funny that you would come on here and tell the people of Conche to stop whining about their road. I lived in the Toronto area for eight years...and every spring when the pot holes would come out on your city streets (all two or three of them)...there was no shortage of complaints and whining from the people of Toronto. It would be a common thing to have to listen to on the evening news. If the people of Toronto had to put up with anything close to the condition of these roads...well, lets just say they wouldn't. Come to think of it...you couldn't even deal with a bit of snow up there...had to call in the army. Now that's what I call whining. Have a good day Mr. Theo.

  • Pierre Neary
    July 01, 2010 - 20:19

    To Patsy McGrath:
    Good post. I would like to see the Premier driving his Maserati down Route 434. That would be priceless. Real man of the people that Premier. Just another in a long swathe of broken election promises from Minister Hedderson and the government.

  • Leo
    July 01, 2010 - 20:18

    Leo Nolan, none. ATVs have never been used on the road to Roddickton, and are rarely used within the community. There are only a handful of ATVs in Conche, if that.

  • Theo
    July 01, 2010 - 20:16

    Since it's public knowledge the road is bad and this paper has documented evidence of everyone saying such, there should be no accidents at all now because everyone is aware of the situation. Try getting up for work earlier and leaving at the proper time to compensate for the road/weather conditions, that's what us big city folk do. If you people drive off that road or have accidents with each other on that little road, you would never survive driving through major traffic to work in downtown Toronto. We all have our obstacles and we must deal with them. Do you see people from Toronto asking for traffic to be removed from our highways to make it faster and easier for a priveleged few to get to work ? Whine, whine, whine. DRIVE MORE CAREFULLY if you want to avoid accidents. You already know the road is bad, you've just said so.

  • William
    July 01, 2010 - 20:14

    To Theo in TO; You have missed the boat! It's not traffic or the # of cars, it comes down to SAFETY and the price of repairs. You stated the people of Conche whine, well sir look in a mirror, the folks in your province have been known as WHINERS for as long as I can remember.
    To the People of Conche and other places in NL that have POOR roads, next Election time ,stay home and refuse to vote, cause your Gov is not listening any how. If your member is not PC than your out of luck.

  • clifford
    July 01, 2010 - 20:12

    as a fomer resident of conche i feel we have been betrayed by the nl goverment of its promise to pave the conche road. its a disgrace to havr to travel over such a treachous road. my god its 2010 where are you people who hold goverment positions living that you cant see the conditions of these roads. we have been driveing that road since the early 70s .its now 40 th years latter and you say we are whiners . yes its been upgraded why not complete it. why keep on wasteing money on grading when it defeat the puspose . simple answere pave it everyonre is happy and it dosent cost so much money every year to keep up.come on you people who represent us lets get action pave conche road now not much later. keep up the fight you people of conche at home and those living away give your suppoet to your community. lets all get behind conche residentsand get a road that is not a disgrace to look at thank you

  • Ashley
    July 01, 2010 - 20:09

    Theo, why not come take a drive on our roads in your car or truck and see how long it lasts. The road conditions in Toronto are way better then they are in Conche, even if there is more traffic. The speed limit going over the road to Roddickton is 60 km/h and while driving over 2/3's of this road we can only drive 20 or 30 km/h if that. Maybe if the people of Toronto drove more carefully then there would not be as many accidents there now would there!

  • Leo
    July 01, 2010 - 20:06

    I wonder how much damage is being caused by ATV's?

  • CAROLYN
    July 01, 2010 - 20:06

    As long as were on the subject of paved roads i think the road to Placentia & Whitbourne should be paved the roads are really bad especially after the grader upgrades it you got to stop and pick up the big rocks that are left on the roads so you won't hit your base pan i know a family from Toronto came home one summer for a visit on the way back home they struck the base pan from the rental unit they had, they had to call a tow truck to come and get them, now the tourist season is up on us they visit the Cataracts they got to travel over the dirt road i think our goverment should step up and pave those roads for the sake of about 20 kms.

  • Brad
    July 01, 2010 - 20:05

    Theo from ON.....The 401 is a dangerous highway as most of your province is aware, yet hundreds of lives are claimed on it each year. Does that make you and your fellow residents morons??? Or, does it mean that dangerous road conditions exist, and we can only hope our governments recognize it and do something about it for the safety of those involved.

  • andy
    July 01, 2010 - 20:03

    Theo - you Big City Folks
    I would like to have you drive on our roads, Potholes or no potholes, snow or no snow
    you get 2 inches of snow in the BIG CITY and everything comes to an abrupt halt, get 3 inches and you declare a national emergency.
    A word of advice IF YOU'VE NEVER BEEN THERE TO EXPERIENCE IT FIRST HAND THEN MAYBE YOU SHOULD KEEP YOUR OPINIONS TO YOURSELF
    As for priveledged drivers, If the series Canada's worst drivers is an indication of the drivers you have in Ontario, then yes, the people from the BIG CITY should ask to have traffic removed from the highways or at least take a hard look at your driving instructers who pass these people on their driving exam.
    All we are asking is to have, what the rest of Canada take for granted