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Traffic delays causing frustration for drivers in Central NL

This was the traffic backup on Sunday, East from Grand Falls-Windsor.
This was the traffic backup on Sunday, East from Grand Falls-Windsor.

BISHOP’S FALLS, NL — It took Samantha Abbott nearly two hours on Sunday, Aug. 6, to drive an eight km section of highway through a construction zone between Grand Falls-Windsor and Bishop’s Falls.

She was one of many motorists who expressed frustrated in recent days by what seemed to be excessively long hold-ups in traffic as work crews lay new asphalt.

This past Sunday, many of them took to Twitter and Facebook to express their frustration.

Some of them waited more than an hour to get through the area, and there were long lines of vehicles backed up heading in each direction.

Abbot told The Advertiser in an e-mail she shares custody of her son and has to travel back and forth for weekly drop-offs. She was stuck for over 40 minutes heading West towards Grand Falls around 11a.m. on Aug 6.

On the way back she was stuck for almost two hours. That’s how long it took for her to travel the eight km between GFW and the Bishops Falls Irving station.

“It was crazy! Being stuck in traffic for that long, to cover such a short distance, and with a two-year-old in tow, really tried my patience,” said Abbott.

Abbott wasn’t the only person complaining about the wait times on the highway, Megan Cooke commented on The Advertiser’s Facebook page saying she had driven to Newfoundland from Ontario and ended up stuck for two and a half hours between Grand Falls-Windsor and Bishops Falls.

“After a long few days travelling by car from Ontario, this wait time was almost unbearable . . . (it was) our only route to our destination so it was unavoidable,” she said.

The lengthy lineups and traffic slowdown also caused some travellers to be late for for their destinations.

Traffic backed up between Grand Falls-Windsor and Bishops Falls on Sunday leaving motorists at a standstill, in some cases for more than an hour.

 “You cannot block the only route through to the airport in Gander. Potholes fixed or not, there has to be a way around for traffic to move, even if at a slower pace,” Pam Hunter Wheeler commented on The Advertiser Facebook page. “I left Grand Falls-Windsor at 10:30a.m. for a 2:40p.m. flight and almost missed it due to the construction,” Pam Hunter Wheeler, adding she would have missed her flight if it not been delayed by 30 minutes.

While there were lots of frustrated motorists commenting on social media, there were some who were taking it all in stride, expressing that they were just happy to see that stretch of highway being repaired.

Chad Colbourne stated in a Facebook comment that he would “gladly wait an hour in traffic to get the potholes and rough roads fixed up.”

Aside from social media, some people took their complaints to the RCMP, hoping the police might be able to help the situation.

The RCMP Communications Center issued a press release that afternoon noting they had received several calls on their emergency line from frustrated motorists.

The police said there were attempting to speak with a superintendent from Department of Transportation responsible for the area.

“It’s construction season and people need to use patience,” said Staff Sargent Kelly Bryan, adding people should refrain from calling the emergency line because it could tie up that line and delay a life-threatening emergency call from getting through.

The RCMP had also received a complaint that people could be seen exiting their cars in the lineup.

The RCMP advises motorists this practice could be hazardous, and people should remain inside their vehicles when experiencing delays on the highway.

Some motorists also questioned why traffic was not diverted through Bishops Falls to alleviate the waiting and the lineups.

In response to questions from The Advertiser, the Department of Transportation and Works said in an email the reason for delays was because “the road upgrades over the weekend [that] were taking place at sections of the Trans-Canada Highway required narrowing the highway down to one lane.

“Given that one lane was being used to alternate between eastbound and westbound traffic, there were significant delays for some motorists.”  

The e-mail went on to say, “While some delays during roadwork can be anticipated, the department is working with the contractor to ensure significant delays are mitigated in the future.”

The department says it also advises travellers to check for ‘construction slow down’ updates on its webpage or @TW_GovNL

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