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Named to honour Olympic gold, Team Gushue Highway has lost its lustre

The southbound stretch of the Team Gushue Highway, from the Outer Ring Road exit to the Goldstone Street exit. Like the sign says, the piece of highway has potholes and ruts galore.
The southbound stretch of the Team Gushue Highway, from the Outer Ring Road exit to the Goldstone Street exit. Like the sign says, the piece of highway has potholes and ruts galore.

It was a proud moment for Brad Gushue and his teammates.

Months after his St. John’s rink captured the gold medal at the 2006 Winter Olympics in Torino, Italy, the team was honoured by their home province with a highway in their name.

Nowadays, the mere mention of the Team Gushue Highway makes many people in this region cringe. The highway is associated with horrid road conditions — potholes and huge craters that have caused more than one motorist to lose a tire, not to mention their temper, in the past few years.

It’s common to see several damaged cars lining the shoulder of the 2.3-kilometre stretch of road, which runs from the Outer Ring Road to Kenmount Road and cost $12.8 million to build.

Brad Gushue is well aware of the problems plaguing the road. He’s been hearing about it for years from citizens who link the highway with his team.

He and his teammates get scores of emails and online messages about it and are approached in person on a regular basis by people who look to him to spur the government to make repairs.

“It’s really frustrating,” Gushue said. “People think we have some kind of influence (over the government), and it surprises me that people think we do. We have no pull. I wish we did because we’d have it repaired.

“We’d love to see it in better condition.”

The Team Gushue Highway was officially opened in June 2006 to honour the team — Gushue as skip, Mark Nichols, Jamie Korab, Mike Adams and Russ Howard. The team became the first Canadian men’s curling team to capture Olympic gold.

“To have a highway named after us is a true honour. We are honestly thankful and very appreciative for that,” said Gushue, whose rink won the 2017 Tim Hortons Brier title at Mile One Stadium earlier this year.

“Now, it has a negative (connotation). It’s just unfortunate our brand is associated with that.”

At the time the highway was opened, government officials were optimistic, noting it would allow for more free-flowing movement of vehicles in the increasingly high-traffic area.

“This is a great day for motorists who travel in this area,” Bob Ridgley, then MHA for St. John’s North, said at the time.

It’s not so much these days. While some repairs have been made, there are still several hazardous spots, and vehicles are still being damaged.

While Gushue would love to see something done about it, he said it’s not his place to speak to government officials.

“We don’t have any control on what government does and we’re not going to use any platform to try and influence anyone,” Gushue said.

“So, I tell people, if you want changes, like any citizen, go to your MHA. We’d love to help, but we can’t.”

 

rmullaley@thetelegram.com

Twitter: TelyRosie

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