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Elswick Road residents say latest accident shows why Corner Brook needs to calm street's traffic

The driver of this Nissan Sentra claims he stopped and looked both ways before proceeding from Elswick Road onto O'Connell Drive and striking an oncoming Dodge Nitro.
The driver of this Nissan Sentra claims he stopped and looked both ways before proceeding from Elswick Road onto O'Connell Drive and striking an oncoming Dodge Nitro. - Gary Kean

Folks who live on Elswick Road say Monday’s accident there is an example of why something needs to be done to address their concerns about traffic.

Borje House, who was visiting Corner Brook from Edmonton, said he had come to a stop on Elswick Road before driving his rental vehicle into O’Connell Drive.

He said he had looked both ways, but never saw the Dodge Nitro he struck as he tried to turn onto O’Connell Drive.

“I looked that way, but I didn’t look back again,” he said before leaving the accident scene. “I guess that’s where the problem lies.”

Related stories:

Residents of Lower Elswick Road petition city to address traffic volume and speeding on their street

Driver ticketed for failing to stop at a stop sign

The impact heavily damaged both vehicles. House’s car was spun around and ended up facing the direction he had just come from.

The Nitro wound up veering to the opposite side of West Valley Road, crashing into a utility pole. The woman driving the Dodge was taken to hospital with what police said were non-life-threatening injuries.

This utility pole had to be replaced Monday after this Dodge Nitro was driven into it after striking a car that had entered O'Connell Drive from Elswick Road. The woman driving the Dodge was taken to hospital.
This utility pole had to be replaced Monday after this Dodge Nitro was driven into it after striking a car that had entered O'Connell Drive from Elswick Road. The woman driving the Dodge was taken to hospital.

 

The damaged light pole, which had to be replaced later Monday evening, sits on the edge of Sandra Companion’s property. Nearly four years ago, an accident under nearly the exact circumstances sent a truck across Companion’s front lawn and into her parked truck, writing it off.

She’s lived on the corner lot for 15 years and said she has seen countless accidents — and even more near misses — involving both vehicles and pedestrians trying to use the intersection’s two crosswalks.

She said the combination of people not stopping as they exit Elswick Road and driving too fast on O’Connell Drive through this area is a serious safety concern.

“Something has to be done,” she said Monday. “I don’t know what the solution is, but somebody is going to get killed here. It is not safe. It is absolutely not safe.”

This summer, the residents of lower Elswick Road petitioned Corner Brook city council, urging the city to take measures to address their concerns about traffic volume and speeds.

Several of them gathered as emergency crews went about cleaning up the scene Monday.

Verbon Hewlin, who also lives on a corner lot at the intersection, said this was the third accident in the past few weeks and two of them were caused by people not stopping on Elswick Road. He said this latest accident further justifies the petition he and his neighbours have presented to council.

“We’re lucky no one was walking through there at the time and it wasn’t more serious than it was,” said Hewlin. “It’s just a matter of time before there’s a more serious accident.”

The residents say lower Elswick Road is used by too many people as a shortcut to avoid the traffic lights at the intersection of O’Connell Drive and West Valley Road.

“People accelerate coming off the lights and coming up the street,” said Hewlin. “It’s a recipe for disaster, really.”

City council has responded to the petition, saying it will collect traffic data and see if any measures are needed. Council also noted that paying for any traffic-calming measures would have to be a part of the 2019 municipal budget process.

Lawrence Bruce-Robertson lives on another of the corner lots at the intersection. He, like some of the others, says making lower Elswick Road a one-way street so vehicles cannot exit onto O’Connell Drive would be the quickest and simplest way to prevent these types of accidents and cut down on the volume of traffic using the street.

“If you looked at all the costs of bringing ambulances, firetrucks and police here every time there is an accident, that cost would be way higher than putting in a one-way stop sign or little barricades,” said Bruce-Robertson.

“When the city is thinking of cost, they have to think of the entire cost of not doing it, as opposed to the cost of doing it.”

In the 2014 accident that caused damage to Companion’s parked truck, a driver was issued a ticket for running a stop sign.

The Royal Newfoundland Constabulary said it is investigating Monday’s accident and there was no word about whether any tickets would be issued or charges laid as of deadline.

The initial accident caused a road closure for more than hour Monday. Traffic flow resumed, but had to be stopped again later in the evening as Newfoundland Power replaced the cracked utility pole.

Newfoundland Power said it was not expecting a power outage to be needed to replace the pole.

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