Motorists are experiencing severe tire damage at MacDougalls bridge on the TCH
By Ryan King
Community News Reporter
MACDOUGALLS – Hope Gallant got a fright when she damaged her vehicle while driving over the section of the Trans Canada Highway at MacDougalls bridge recently.
“I was going up the Codroy Valley. I knew there was talk of a hole on the bridge. The truck that was in front of me was driving slow the whole time. He hit his brakes and I couldn’t see the hole because he covered my windshield in water. I hit the hole hard enough, doing 70 kilometres (per hour), that I thought I broke something. My whole car rattled,” said Gallant.
It wasn’t until the following evening that she saw the full extent of the damages.
“The night after I noticed I had a flat tire and the front and back of my rim was badly dented. Wouldn’t hold air at all.”
Gallant says that she is not the only person who has damaged their vehicle on the bridge and that it has been in rough shape for some time.
“That bridge has been bad for years, and there have been multiple people that have hit it and blown out tires. It has only ever been slap job repairs with a bit of cold patch. That isn’t good enough. If I was going 100 kilometres, I have no doubt in my mind I would have lost control. That hole is insanely deep and going to hurt someone.”
Gallant attempted to contact the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure (DTI), but didn’t have any success.
“I tried to call Head Office in Deer Lake, but no answer when I called. Nothing ever gets done anyway so I didn’t bother again. So many people have called and nothing was done. One more person isn’t going to change their mind. It’s sad really. I personally have no faith in our government system, in any department.”
Kathryn Summers, Media Relations Manager with DTI, explained that the department continues to complete bridge inspections and repairs.
“Bridge inventory is managed under the professional direction of the Chief Bridge Engineer where structural integrity and safety of the bridge is paramount.”
The MacDougalls bridge is over 50 years old. Decades of exposure to the elements affect the bridge structure below, and that leads to the cracks and potholes that motorists are having to contend with every year.
“Bridge decks can deteriorate over time due to wear and tear and the bridge infrastructure’s exposure to salt and water. Cracks in the concrete deck can impact the asphalt on top of it.”
The department’s plans for repair work is expected to be issued this winter.
“The department’s multi-year roads plan will be issued this winter with a list of upcoming projects for road construction projects, as well as repairs and replacements for bridges and culverts. Projects included in the department’s budget for the plan are based on priority.”
However, Summers did share that the rehabilitation of MacDougalls bridge is a priority, “and is under consideration for funding in 2022.”
Until then, motorists should use caution near the bridge and slow down to avoid possible vehicle damage.