‘It’s not sensible’

Barb
Barb Sweet
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Portugal Cove residents, harbour authority troubled by parking, traffic congestion at ferry site

Traffic at the wharf in Portugal Cove. — Photo by Joe Gibbons/The Telegram

Traffic congestion and haphazard parking related to the Bell Island ferry is causing a whopping headache for some in Portugal Cove.

“This goes back years. Transportation has really shown a total disregard for the people of Portugal Cove,” said Jock Stewart, whose Harding’s Hill house overlooks the ferry terminal and the picturesque harbour.

But for Stewart, there’s nothing pretty about cars left parked all over the breakwater, wharf and road, causing congestion and clogging up residents’ access to the highway.

“There’s an attitude in Transportation that ‘We know what we are doing and don’t even suggest anything to us,’ ” Stewart said.

He said an attempt to create two lanes and installation of concrete barricades has worsened the problem because it’s not properly set up.

“For me it’s the safety issue. You go down there and even though they are parked, people get out of their cars and they stand right in front where you’re supposed to go through and they won’t move,” added his wife Doreen Stewart about the road to the ferry terminal/wharf.

The only other way out of that section of town is Loop Drive — or what’s known as the rock cut —  which is too dangerous because of sight issues, Doreen Stewart said.

“There will be a fatal accident someday no doubt in my mind,” she said.

Parking on the fishing wharf has become so bad, it’s impeding fishermen from unloading their catch to the fish plant, said Paul Howell, president of the volunteer board that runs the Harbour Authority of Portugal Cove-St. Philip’s.

He said the provincial government dropped the ball when it comes to a place for ferry users to park if they want to leave their vehicle and walk on the ferry.

The harbour authority has warned it may have to resort to gating off the wharf, but will put no parking signs up soon to try to alleviate the problem. There’s a gate on the end of the wharf closest to the ferry ramp, but none on the far end accessible from the main road.

Howell said there have been as many as eight dump trucks parked there at a time — too dangerous a load for the wharf cribbing.

Recently, Howell said a transport truck driver trying to deliver ice to a 65-foot fishing boat had to back up the hilly road leading to the pier because of the cars parked on the wharf.

“It’s like they got no respect. They leave their vehicles in the middle of  the lot,” Howell said.

He also said fishermen have had trouble unloading their catch because there’s no room for a forklift to manoeuvre around all the cars.

“It’s not sensible,” said Howell, adding  one recent Friday night 52 cars were left on the wharf.

Jock Stewart recommended Transportation and Works move the ferry service to Conception Bay South.

He noted fishermen and pleasure boaters, even those using a dory, have to pay to use the wharf, but Bell Islanders are parking there for free.

“Up until the early ’90s or late ’80s, it was absolutely no parking anywhere. Nobody other than government vehicles. All of a sudden that has changed. Nobody here has ever ever been consulted,” Stewart said.

“They leave them all night and over weekend.”

Steve and Myrtle Tucker, across-the-road neighbours of the Stewarts echoed the concerns, saying idling engines and difficulties getting out of their road have worsened in recent years.

Bernard Manning, director of public works for Portugal Cove-St. Philip’s, said there’s a joint project between the town and the province to alleviate the issues.

A contractor has been chosen and Manning said Newfoundland Power is in the process of moving utility poles to ac the work.

Manning met with government officials Friday.

He said there will be two ticket booths — one at the top of the terminal road and one down by the ferry. And there will be layby lanes the town hopes will take the congestion away from Harding Hill and a restaurant where customers have problems accessing the parking lot because of the ferry lineups.

He couldn’t say when the work would be done.

Manning also said the town plans to pave the breakwater to increase parking for ferry users.

There’s also a concept plan to move the ferry terminal, but that’s not funded yet.

Other future plans include beautifying the area around the fish plant, wharf and terminal, but that’s just an idea so far.

“We would like to see private industry and the province working together,” Manning said.

He said he hasn’t heard anyone suggest moving the ferry operation to Conception Bay South and the town of Portugal Cove-St. Philip’s, despite the headaches, wants to keep it.

bsweet@thetelegram.com

Organizations: Hill house, Harbour Authority of Portugal Cove, Newfoundland Power

Geographic location: Portugal Cove, Bell Island

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Comments

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Recent comments

  • Hello
    June 20, 2011 - 15:38

    This article is wrong on so many levels. First of all, a picture of the ferry terminal when there is one boat on would have added more credibility to the complaints. Secondly, how about a article that tells both sides of this story? There are 2 sides to this parking fiasco. You found residents of Portugal Cove to COMPLAIN about the parking situation. Now, find a resident of Bell Island that can EXPLAIN the parking situation. Thirdly, the ramblings regarding the "people not moving", and "no respect", is, pure and simple, garbage. People park where they can park, whether that be wharf, breakwater, or otherwise. I am a Bell Islander who travels to work on a daily basis. When I arrive at the ferry terminal, the estimated wait time is my sole factor in determining whether I will leave my vehicle. I am not concerned with how "pretty" the ferry terminal looks. I would like to know where these concerned residents suggest we park our cars? In their driveways? On Portugal Cove Road perhaps? Finally, with a ferry service that provides unreliable service with an "irregular" schedule on depleted vessels, and at times, strands 400 or 500 people, tax- paying people, in Portugal Cove for days, I would hope there would some sort of priority to these issues. I guess not.

  • Mclark
    June 20, 2011 - 11:16

    Maybe if Mr. Gosine stopped parking his delivery trucks all over the place there would be more room. As it is they park in the government only section and because of his status he gets away with it. Also staff have themselves a smoking section on the boat. All staff caught smoking on the ferry should be fired on the spot.

  • Linda Lewis
    June 20, 2011 - 10:10

    On the one hand Portugal Cove / St. Philip's are complaining about the traffic congestion caused by the Ferry. To my knowledge this has gone on for years. When it was suggested that the Ferry service be moved. Portugal Cove / St.Philip's want to keep it . This just goes to show that it's just another thing to complain about.

  • Bill
    June 20, 2011 - 09:40

    This boondoggle has been in the works for the past 4 to 5 summers as contractors have worked on anything from widening the Wharf Road, to widening the bridge over the river, to actually painting double lanes for the traffic lineup. But Transportation and Works was not even interested in hiring the extra person to facilitate the lineup in the two lanes. Now residents are told that once again for season number 5 or 6, yet another contract has been let to get the work finished. In the meantime, ferry travellers are frustrated with their lack of ferry space and leave their vehicles in the Cove, and residents are frustrated by the excess traffic blocking all available space most nights. Blame for this has to be clearly laid at the desks of the officials in Transportation and Works who are responsible for both the ferry service and the road networks. Their response and action on this project for the past 6 summers has been incompetent to say the least. The residents of Bell Island were certainly instrumental in getting their man, David Brazil, elected on the Government side. Hopefully he will be able to finally make all of the pieces fall together before the October election. If it's not finished this year, I would suggest it would be a prime project for investigation by the Auditor General as given the time lags, the eventual cost will probably double or triple the initial project cost when it began in 2006.

  • island lady
    June 20, 2011 - 08:56

    Another kick in the guts for the residents of Bell Island as if they already do not have it hard enought with the lousy ferry service that we have but to be jumped by the residents of Portugal cove over the parking issue. To have to pay to park your vehicle in portugal cove "We already pay taxes and pay to use the ferry" what do they want blood from a turnip. I say to them grin and bear it like the commuters have to do with the lousy ferry system they have to endure every day. For those of you arguing remember those commuters are up at 4 am in the morning to get to work for 8 am and you have the nerve to complain they are blocking your beautiful view. If you want a beautiful view come visit the beautiful scenery of Bell Island and when you are lining up on Bell Island side to get back look at the visitors out of their cars blocking BELL ISLAND VIEW AND DRIVEWAYS.