Chantell O’Quinn figures the Department of Transportation and Works owes her $270.50. That’s how much it cost to tow her car back to Port aux Basques after she struck a deep pothole near Codroy Pond, just before the North Branch River Bridge.
At the time a mix of salt and sand had been spread on the road, partially obscuring just how deep the hole actually was. O’Quinn works in Stephenville and was headed there from Port aux Basques early Friday morning, Feb. 23, when she heard and felt a “bang.”
“It wasn’t (the salt and sand truck operators) fault,” O’Quinn told the Gulf News via telephone. “I thought it was a little patch until I got right on it.”
By the time she realized how deep the hole was O’Quinn was already in it and the damage to her car was done.
“It was too late then. (I was) trying to get control of the car to pull over safely.”
When she got out to inspect the damage O’Quinn saw her right front tire was completely flat and the rim itself was unfixable. Her back rim was also badly bent, but mechanics in Port aux Basques would later hammer that one back into place.
“My tires were salvageable, thank God,” said O’Quinn.
Since she keeps her summer tires on separate rims, she didn’t have to buy another rim to replace the broken one.
It was the tow back to Port aux Basques and the nearest garage, plus her summer tire rims, that cost O’Quinn the most money. The tow itself cost $205, with $30 to change and balance the tires and repair one rim.
For now, she has sent a letter to the Department of Transportation and Works seeking reimbursement, along with copies of the photos and the garage and tow-truck bills.
“The woman I was talking to in Deer Lake said she don’t think there’s a very good chance of it but said go ahead and try anyway.”
In her letter to the department, O’Quinn notes there’s almost no warning before the pothole. An orange safety cone is only a dozen feet away and buried in a snowbank. O’Quinn believes this is inadequate as the pothole is actually deep enough to be considered a safety hazard.
She’s not the only one who thinks so.
After posting about the pothole on Facebook, others have come forward to recount their own experiences. One couple had to be rescued late the previous evening after striking the pothole, and a tractor-trailer driver reported a blown a tire because of it.
Despite the financial hit, O’Quinn is grateful her car didn’t flip over and she wasn’t injured. She is concerned another driver may not be as fortunate.
“There was a girl on the Buchans Highway who had flipped her car and died,” said O’Quinn. “Lots of people tell me how lucky I was. I hadn’t heard that story.”