Now that the new NDP government has finally taken power, one of its first transportation priorities should be to fix Crofton Road.
Despite years of studies and promises from the defeated Liberal government, the heavily used road is still full of potholes and dangerous dips that have become a major safety concern for those who have to use it.
The condition of the road (which is a provincial responsibility folks, not the Municipality of North Cowichan as many callers to my office seem to believe) was a major issue at an all-candidates meeting in the Nanaimo-North Cowichan riding during the spring’s provincial election.
While all the candidates supported upgrading Crofton Road, the only one that really matters at this stage is the winner, the NDP’s Doug Routley.
Routley said during the debate that the NDP had petitioned the Liberal government numerous times to fix the road without success, and written the Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure on the issue as well.
I asked the ministry’s spokespeople after the debate as to what, if anything, the Liberal government intended to do to fix the road.
In a statement, the ministry said that Crofton Road remains a “high priority” for rehabilitation and resurfacing for the Liberal government.
“The ministry will be undertaking further planning this year for a longer term fix for this portion of Crofton Road, and will use the results of these assessments to determine the timing and costs associated with an appropriate fix,” the statement said.
Needless to say, little, if anything, was done before the Liberals lost power.
Earlier this month, Routley told me in an interview shortly after Premier John Horgan named his cabinet that he would bring Crofton Road up to the new Transportation Minister, North Island MLA Claire Trevena.
North Cowichan is also holding the new government’s feet to the fire by voting last week to send a letter to Trevena asking for “immediate” improvements to Crofton Road to decrease emergency response times and damage to emergency vehicles.
Then there’s Crofton fire chief Ken Rukus, who also has deep safety concerns with Crofton Road.
Last April, Rukus gave me a quick tour of the beleaguered stretch of asphalt and his issues with it were obvious.
I recall that some of the potholes he showed me seemed that they could swallow a small car whole, or tear the wheels off most other vehicles if hit hard enough.
Rukus pointed out that the Municipality of North Cowichan is responsible for a number of adjacent roadways and has been doing a good job of maintaining roads in its jurisdiction.
He pointed to the new pavement on Chemainus Road at the intersection of Crofton Road, which is under North Cowichan’s jurisdiction, as proof, and wondered why the province has allowed such a dangerous situation to develop on its road.
“We had three young girls killed in an accident here years ago, and we don’t want anything like that to happen again,” Rukus said at the time.
“The potholes and dips in the roadway have drivers swerving into the opposite lane to avoid them. There are large commercial trucks using the road all the time, as well as tourists, bicyclists and residential traffic, and I feel it’s only a matter of time before another tragic accident happens.”
There’s been enough talk from politicians of all stripes on this issue, and it’s time for someone (hello Doug Routley) to finally see to it that it is dealt with before the tragedy Rukus fears actually happens.
If Routley wants to keep his supporters happy in Crofton and the surrounding communities, and as part of his ongoing efforts to try and recruit new supporters in time for the next election, it would be in his best interests.