SOUTH BRANCH, N.L.
NEWFOUNDLAND AND LABRADOR
Everett Shepard believes the T’Railway Provincial Park running through the Codroy Valley is dangerous.
Alders lining both sides of the popular ATV and hiking trail have become so overgrown they impede visibility.
“Where it’s growing up now, it’s closing in, and it’s like going through a tunnel,” says Shepard.
Shepard says the growth affects the trail throughout the entire valley. She says the growth wasn’t as bad last year.
This year it’s different.
“You can’t pull over to pass. You can’t do anything,” says Shepard. “If you can’t see where you’re going it’s definitely a hazard.”
Shepard says this is particularly worrisome for the senior population who like to go for drives on the trail or walk the trail to get exercise.
“The seniors, they’re scared to go on the trail anymore.”
Loyola Gallant also uses the trail a lot.
“The last week I’ve been on it three or four times. Now it’s berry picking time and you’re moving around from one area to the other,” says Gallant. “I use it in the summertime fishing.”
Gallant also likens the drive to a tunnel.
“When you’re going through on your side-by-side the alders have grown in so much they’re hitting on both sides,” says Gallant. “When you come up to a curve, there’s places, I don’t know if you could see 10 feet (ahead).”
Gallant says the potential for disaster is obvious.
“It’s dangerous for a collision. There hasn’t been a fatality there yet, but you know I think it’s one waiting to happen. I really do.”
Zita Muise is one of the residents who says she wrote a letter of concern to the T’Railway Provincial Park email address, but has yet to receive any response.
“I explained the danger of having to pass another ATV unless we pull off in the bushes with no idea whether we are on top of an embankment or the edge of a deep bog. I asked if anyone could address our concerns. That was two weeks ago.”
And the number of ATVs using the trail will likely only increase in the next couple of weeks.
“The locals use it a lot for getting down for moose hunting and there’ll be a lot more traffic on it then,” notes Gallant.
Gallant is a retired nurse so has witnessed firsthand the devastating effect of an ATV accident.
“I’ve worked with people who have had head injuries,” says Gallant. “I had a nephew that hit a moose on the highway; he’s now a quadriplegic. So, you know, it can happen on the trail bed too. Those machines – not everybody is driving as fast as a car – but if a moose comes over you at 40 or 50 kilometres (per hour) driving on the railbed you’d better have lots of protection.”
Gallant has only seen some minor maintenance on this section of the T’Railway.
“There’s no maintenance on the trail on a regular basis. All I know is they did repair the bridge that was closed for a while.”
Gallant believes the problem will only compound over the winter as heavy snows force the alders down onto the trail, rendering it impassible next year.
“I think it’s a safety issue. I think if they’re going to have a T’Railway, they (government) should maintain it or close it because it’s definitely a safety issue.”
“It’s really in bad shape. It needs some serious, serious maintenance,” agrees Shepard. “If a moose or anything like that comes out you wouldn’t see it. You’d plow right into it.”
The Department of Tourism, Culture, Industry and Innovation released the following statement in response to Gulf News inquiries.
“Parks Division staff routinely inspect T’Railway Provincial Park for potential hazards, with priority placed on bridge maintenance and repair of washouts to maintain the continuity of the trail.
“Staff with Parks Division are currently assessing the maintenance priorities for the fall season, and vegetation control projects will occur, dependent on budget availability.
“Parks is a division of the Department of Tourism, Culture, Industry and Innovation, and is unaware of any unanswered correspondence regarding the overgrowth issue.
“Users of the T’Railway Provincial Park do so at their own risk.”