Road rage

Published on August 7, 2014

What in the name of sanctity is going on? Are capital expenditures projects/costs decided on nepotism or what’s best for the taxpayers of Newfoundland and Labrador?

The pavement on the Outer Ring Road, Muskrat Falls and traffic lights are just a few annoyances to those of us trying to understand what’s going on and analyzing things through the lens of common sense. How is it we can mobilize the hounds of war when a cod or seal harvest is threatened with fishermen taking over government buildings and blockading the ferries but matters that affect much larger portions of the population garner almost no pushback whatsoever?

The time will come when Muskrat Falls is mentioned, people will realize we had two Joey decisions on the Labrador power generating issue — one made by Joey and the other rammed down our throats by Danny.

Danny’s inability to play nice with others in the sandbox will cost this province for decades. The taxpayers will never get out from under the debt created by these bad decisions. Hydro rates are climbing steadily and Nalcor is looking for another rate increase. Expect these to be greater increases more often as debt load over the Muskrat Falls project are realized in real time, not paper projections. There were other ways to provide power to Dannyville.

Ultimately that is what this is all about — industrial growth, growth that benefits almost nobody in the province but the privileged few business owners at the top.

Ask yourself this: how has your life improved because of this industrial boom bubble hovering over the east coast of Newfoundland? Has your debt load gone down? Do you spend more time with your family? Are you living better today than last year this time? How much better and why?

For the most part those people that I am speaking with are hungrier now than they were five years ago. Wages are deplorable and the cost of living, here in St. John’s in particular, is soaring. Yet the average worker had twice as much to spend after adjustments in 1971 than they do today.

And while people in the province go hungry and struggle to make ends meet the province paves the Outer Ring Road again.

How about just doing it right the first time and leaving it alone?

Paving standards all over the world have been studied and set to accommodate the environment in which the road will exist. Most countries have compaction and pavement standards much higher than in Newfoundland.

I have witnessed the gravel bed poke through in places, especially on the C.B.S. Access Highway with only a 40-50mm cut! Minimum standard for road thickness in most places using modern paving techniques is 280mm plus of asphalt on the bed — five and six times the thickness on most roads here.

I have heard countless times how studs are causing the ruts on the roads. Although studs are damaging, this argument is ridiculous. The damage is obviously being caused by heavy loads, especially on hotter days.

This is happening because there is not enough asphalt laid down to support the loads being constantly hauled over the highways. You can resurface the Outer Ring Road until you are blue in the face.

This will not stop until the roads are repaired properly and plenty of good quality asphalt is used.

The autobahn was built during the 1920s and 1930s and has no ruts to this day. I have driven on it and the pavement is original. If the Germans can build a road that lasts 80-plus years why can’t we keep ruts out of ours for more than two years?

The taxpayers of this province cannot afford to pay to have the same work done over and over and over again.

Jeff Lear writes from St. John’s.