While roads are dangerous by their nature, it is commonly accepted that good road design and construction goes a long way toward preventing injuries for motorists, pedestrians and other road users.
In Fort Babine, B.C., home to the 2,000-strong Lake Babine Nation aboriginal community, residents are suffering from a somewhat unusual problem: new roads being made are too high relative to the level of surrounding ground, causing hazards among local residents and pedestrians who have reported injuries as a result of falling into ditches.
According to a local news report on CFTK-TV, construction of new roads began about a month ago, and while residents were notified and aware of the imminent commencement of the works, they are becoming increasingly concerned about the height of the roads, some of which tower over houses.
“The roads are too high and [there are] a lot of the roads that are not even finished,” local resident Yolonda William explains, adding that there was limited parking space available and that some residents were being forced to head in the direction of neighbouring houses and subsequently crawl up steep gradients to access them.
Another resident, Violet Zehmke, suffered minor injuries to her knee and hand after falling down a ditch, and says she knows of others who have suffered similar injuries.
“Trying to climb up here, one of the big rocks rolled under my feet and I injured my knee,” Zehmke says. “There are two more elders who have fallen into the ditch already.”
Residents are particularly concerned about what will happen during the winter snow season and over the prospect that the high level of the roads will not only exacerbate problems associated with falls on the slippery gradient leading up to the road but trap residents in their houses during heavy snow and possibly cause subsequent flooding when the snow melts.
The height and gradient concerns are just one reason for frustration on the part of locals about what they see as a lack of consultation with regard to the road building program.
Many residents feel that other infrastructure needs are more pressing and say they have not received any indication as to the broader nature of the program and the reasoning behind it. They are concerned that the roads may be being built to accommodate large-scale logging operations without much benefit flowing back to the community.