Whining Wabana mayor ignores real traffic trouble

Brian Jones
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The gall. Wabana Mayor Gary Gosine publicly complained this week about last Saturday’s regatta in Portugal Cove because the annual rowing event allegedly created traffic problems for Bell Islanders trying to get on the ferry … in Portugal Cove.

A running joke among some Portugal Cove residents is that Gosine is in charge in the cove. Everything that happens at the ferry terminal and its environs is seemingly done for the benefit of Bell Islanders, with no attention given to the concerns of people who live in that area of Portugal Cove.

(For the record, and to be forthright, I am one of the disgruntled subjects of His Worship in the cove.)

Gosine whined about traffic trouble last Saturday. Try dealing with it for an additional 364 days, Mr. Mayor, and you’ll see what residents of the area confront daily.

A few years ago, the Department of Transportation and Works reconfigured the road leading down to the ferry terminal. The formerly three-lane road was given a concrete divider in the middle, with two lanes on each side of it. Three lanes became four lanes, but no extra pavement was added.

Most people might wonder about the wisdom, never mind the physics, of this. But not bureaucrats. They went ahead with their plan despite the objections and warnings of local residents.

It won’t work, we said. It will make things worse, we said.

Today, it doesn’t work, and things are worse. Ferry lineups are as long as they were previously, but now pose a significant safety hazard.

Motorists coming off the ferry in Portugal Cove encounter several hundred metres of British driving, i.e., they go up the hill on the left-hand side of the road rather than the right. Vehicles waiting to board the ferry to Bell Island park on the right.

“That’s crazy,” Younger Boy said when the new configuration went into effect.

Indeed it is. But try getting stubborn bureaucrats to listen to the common sense of a 12-year-old.

I’ve lost count of the times I’ve driven up the hill — in the right lane of the two lanes that are on the left-hand side of the four-lane road — only to be confronted by a vehicle coming down straight at me in my lane. But you can’t really blame the drivers. The road is extremely confusing, except perhaps to Brits who went to Oxford.

The real danger is at the intersection of the main road and the ferry terminal road. The lineup of vehicles waiting to get on the ferry usually extends across the intersection. Visibility is impaired in both directions. Motorists attempting to turn onto the main road often have to inch their way through, or around, vehicles in the ferry lineup. Not surprisingly, there have been serious accidents.

Most frustratingly, only three of the road’s four lanes have ever been used. Inexplicably, vehicles in the ferry lineup use only one of the two lanes dedicated to ferry users. The entire length of one lane lies empty, while the lineup in the other lane spills back onto the main road.

So, Mr. Gosine, face this every day before you moan about cars parked on the shoulder during the regatta.

Residents have also expressed concern about the esthetics of the neighbourhood. The breakwater has become an official parking lot, with asphalt and lines. People continue to park illegally on the wharf and walk onto the ferry, turning the wharf into an unofficial parking lot.

Maybe someday, Portugal Cove-St. Philip’s will elect a council willing to stand up to Gosine and the provincial bureaucrats who do his bidding, and residents will no longer joke about Gosine being mayor of the cove.

Brian Jones is a desk editor at

The Telegram. He can be reached at bjones@thetelegram.com and can be found on Facebook.

Organizations: Bell Islanders, Department of Transportation and Works, The Telegram

Geographic location: Portugal Cove, Bell Island

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Recent comments

  • ann jackman
    August 25, 2014 - 09:51

    Loved your commentary about Portugal Cove. I'm a Bell Islander and I too believe what they did in regards to the ferry traffic lanes is a joke. It would be great to see a better system put in place for everyone's safety and peace of mind.

  • Andrea Galway
    August 24, 2014 - 19:18

    I honestly think that whoever designed the roads coming off and leading to the Bell Island ferry did a piss job. It is worst now than it ever was. The people in the cove most certainly have their rights and Gary Gosine should really mind his own business and stick to his own guns. He should concentrate on the problems of this little island and leave the rest alone.

  • canadafirstaid
    August 22, 2014 - 07:04

    Here's what I believe Jones is trying to say. There are possible NL Motor Veh. Act infractions taking place in the 'cove'. Sounds like the local P.D. should be advised. CFA p.s. That's why we pay them, I believe!