Offroad recreational drivers left in the dirt

Published on June 12, 2014

With the T’Railway finally being developed into an official walking and bicycling trail, ATV and other motorized vehicle owners have lost their right to use the former railbed.

The ban is creating another problem, as this group of recreational vehicle owners has no official trail even though the town is supposed to develop a backcountry trail for motorized vehicle users.

The Town of Conception Bay South is regularly reminding residents that the 20-kilometre T’Railway from Topsail to Seal Cove is off limits for motorized vehicles.

Unfortunately, the reminders are being ignored by some motorized vehicle owners, especially those on dirt bikes.

These dirt bikes are not permitted on town or other roads, but they continue to be a common sight here in C.B.S. as they are popular recreational activity for many youth and adults. Owners have used the T’Railway for years and used our roads and highways to get to the former railbed.

We heard several weeks ago about how workers on the T’Railway were confronted by a dirt bike operator who apparently is not too happy about the ban.

The driver allegedly told workers that he has a right to be there and drove away erratically.

As an occasional walker of the T’Railway, I’ve seen dirt bikes — usually operated by youths — heading out local roads to get to the T’Railway and then speeding along the former track.  

Driving on the Foxtrap Access Road several weeks ago, two dirt bikes were barrelling along in front of me with their drivers performing wheelies at close to the speed limit. With no licence plates, it is difficult to report these drivers.

Some bike owners are obeying the ban, and instead of heading to the T’Railway they are using town roads to get to the back country near the Trans-Canada Highway or other areas.

The backcountry is where these motorized vehicles are supposed to be now that the T’Railway is being developed.

They are supposed to have access to the trail at various staging areas along a proposed ATV bypass route.

The town committed to the bypass route in 2012 as part of the plan to develop the T’Railway.

ATV and other motorized users maintained that they had a right to use the T’Railway so they were successful in getting the town to agree to an alternate route.

The town partnered with the Grand Concourse Authority — which has developed a network of trails in the region — to develop the T’Railway and work started earlier this year in the west end and will continue eastward. The redevelopment plans also include a series of storyboards along the trail featuring the history of our communities.  

According to the town’s website, the alternative bypass trail work is progressing, but not very fast, so motorized vehicles are left with no trail.

The town has much work to do on the route, such as negotiate with neighbouring municipalities — primarily St. John’s and Holyrood — for permission to develop the trail through their boundaries.

Proposals for funding are in the works to complete the detailed design and engineering work.

Once (or if) funding is obtained, that work has to be completed and then there will be more proposals for funding for construction.

Despite years of planning to redevelop and get motorized vehicles off the T’Railway, there is still no trail for these motorized vehicles, which are a fixture here in C.B.S. and other parts of the province.

The ATV bypass route is likely several years away, so our town will continue to have a problem with motorized vehicles on the T’Railway and local roads.    

Joan Butler is a lifelong resident of Kelligrews, Conception Bay South. She can be reached

by email at joanbutler@ymail.com.