Lack of crosswalk puts children at risk: Mount Pearl resident

Published on July 24, 2014
A car drives past the Team Gushue Sports Complex on Smallwood Drive in Mount Pearl Wednesday. Larry Spurrell, who lives in the area, is concerned for the safety of pedestrians who cross the road to access the complex.  — Photo by Keith Gosse/The Telegram

A Mount Pearl resident says it’s only a matter of time before a child on his street is seriously injured.

Larry Spurrell lives next to the Team Gushue Complex, a major recreation centre in Mount Pearl that contains several fields and various sports facilities. The only entrance into the complex is a small road off a residential street, Smallwood Drive, but after exiting the complex, there is no crosswalk to get across that road. Smallwood Drive is often heavy with speeding traffic and the nearest crosswalk is several hundred metres down the street.

“Kids who live here are not going to walk all that way, go across, and come back. It’s just common sense,” said Spurrell.

Spurrell said he sees many children jaywalking across Smallwood Drive after coming out of the complex, oftentimes at night, and he is concerned there is only a matter of time before someone gets hit. He said the location is vitally in need of a crosswalk.

“I think someone’s going to be hurt. I really do,” he said. “Easy enough to say the parents should be looking after them, but regardless, kids are kids. We’ve got to look for their safety.

Spurrell sent an email outlining his concerns to Mount Pearl City Council in September. Although several council members responded saying they would look into the issue, he has not seen any change.

“It can’t be a money issue, because it’s not that expensive. They’re saying, ‘oh it’s protocol,’ but you don’t have to do a study to put down a crosswalk that you know will have to be there. Whatever they do there, there’s got to be painted lines,” said Spurrell.

“Once somebody is killed, there’s going to be no blood on my fingers. I’m going to say I’ve done my best,” he said. “Council knows about this. If something happens, our tax dollars are going to be gone, because they’re going to get sued.”

Mount Pearl Mayor Randy Simms said that while he thinks a crosswalk is probably necessary, this is not an issue of betting on common sense and speculation.

“These things are done with a certain element of science attached to it. It’s not just common practice to say, ‘well it’s obvious. It’s only white paint. Just put it down and call it a day.’ There’s a little more to it than that,” he said. “The people that actually know traffic movement and how to deal with it are the one that give you the recommendations, and those are the recommendations that we follow.”

Simms said the city has hired a consulting group to look into whether or not a crosswalk is needed in the area, and if so, what type. The group is also investigating the need for a second entrance/exit way to the complex, among other traffic, parking, and roadway issues around the Team Gushue Complex.

“We’re pretty hesitant about putting in crosswalks just to put them in because someone says they think they’d like to have a crosswalk,” said Simms. “You could put a crosswalk in on a very busy street, and people feel when they enter a crosswalk that because they have the right of way, they are protected, everything is alright, all traffic will stop for them and so on. And that’s not necessarily the case. Sometimes you can end up with a false sense of security.”

The group should have recommendations ready within a month.

“You only have X amount of money, and you have to do it using legitimate processes to make sure you’re doing it right. None of these things happen overnight,” said Simms.