Moose detectors didn’t work half the time
An elaborate moose detection system installed at sites near Grand Falls-Windsor and on the Salmonier Line has not be working half the time, according to recent news reports.
But Paul Davis, Minister of Transportation and Works, said government had the systems installed in the fall of 2011 to run as a two-year pilot project.
"We have experienced several technical difficulties during this pilot process," he admitted. "We are committed to completing the pilot term of 24 months. Our government is also piloting wildlife fencing on the west coast of the island over this same period. Following the completion of the pilot projects, we will evaluate the data and make a decision on these measures."
Safeguards of Canada Inc. built the two systems as part of a two-year pilot project aimed at curbing moose-vehicle collisions.
The project cost about $1.5 million.
According to the minister, the project is under warranty, which was included in the initial cost of the project. Davis said that has covered the additional cost of repairs, so taxpayers aren't paying extra money.
The system was brought in as a reaction to public outcry about moose-vehicle collisions, according to the minister.
Eugene Nippard is one of the founders of the Save Our People Action Committee (SOPAC). He and other SOPAC members have been less than forgiving about the performance of the moose detectors.
"They haven't been proven to be very good at all," he said. "They've been down 75 per cent of the time that they've been there. If it was a system that's been working properly, we'd support keeping it up."
He added if were a system that could prevent accidents and let people know there's a moose on the highway, SOPAC would love that. But that's not the case there, he said.
Nippard said the system should be taken down and replaced with fencing, which has been used in New Brunswick as well as other parts of the province, to keep the moose away.
Davis said that as a result of the ongoing issues with the detection system, the province disabled the system in January of 2013 so Safeguards, the contractor for this equipment, could fully investigate the issues, determine the causes of the malfunctions and correct them.
"Safeguards worked through these issues as part of our system warranty at no additional cost to government," he explained. "Once Safeguards completed their comprehensive analysis of the system and completed several repairs, the systems resumed full operation and out-of-order signs were removed in June, and have been in operation since this time."
According to the minister, his department is examining historical data and collecting data under the new Collision Data Management System, to help identify trends in moose vehicle collisions. This system is able to pinpoint the precise location of a collision with GPS coordinates, which was not possible in the past. Previously, this information was only available by sections of road, not precise location.
"Aside from pilot projects underway, as Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, we all have a responsibility to make safe driving our number one priority," said Minister Davis. We continue to remind motorists to keep a watchful eye for moose and other wildlife that may enter the roadway unexpectedly."