Accident victim calling for shelf life for Bailey bridges
Gregg LeBlanc looks out the living room window of his Amherst home. LeBlanc, who was severely injured in a motorcycle accident July 4, is lobbying for the province to introduce a bill that would put a two-year shelf life on Bailey bridges. Raissa Tetanish Amherst Daily News
AMHERST - Gregg LeBlanc said his quest has nothing to do with animosity and everything to do with the health and wellbeing of county residents.
LeBlanc, who is still recouperating following a July 4 motorcycle accident, is calling on the government to introduce a bill that would see a shelf life put on Bailey bridges.
"This is about negligence. Bailey bridges would be in better shape if they were upkept, but they aren't, so I'm hoping the province will put a shelf life on them," he said from his home where he's still trying to get his strength and mobility back.
On July 4, LeBlanc was participating in a Biking 4 Bone Marrow event when he travelled across the Bailey bridge in Sand River.
"Even in the RCMP report, it said my wheel went in between two boards on the bridge," he said, noting that two weeks before his accident, another motorcyclist travelling the area complained about the bridge to a local campground operator.
For four months, LeBlanc remained in the hospital in Halifax while going through rehabilitation.
He broke his pelvis, arm and two vertebrae, while a third had pinched his spinal column.
Since then, LeBlanc has gained much of that mobility and movement back. He still has a long way to go, which might include another surgery on his neck to correct leaking spinal fluid.
To help fight his fight, LeBlanc has met with Cumberland North MLA Brian Skabar and said he was left with a positive impression.
"I'm hoping he'll be able to have a bill put in place that gives a shelf life of two years, plus six months grace, on these bridges if the province isn't going to maintain them," he said.
"These bridges are ignored. The bridge I was on is 20 to 25 years old and was only supposed to be temporary."
After returning from meetings in Cape Breton, Skabar said, after meeting with LeBlanc, that he has plans to talk with Transportation Minister Bill Estabrooks about Bailey bridges.
"I will bring it up with Bill Estabrooks to see what he thinks about it. But it seems to me that if the Bailey bridge is going to be installed as temporary but is going to be there for four years or so and after that still is deemed safe for motorists, then maybe putting an artificial shelf life might not be the best use of resources," said Skabar.
Having been released from the hospital Nov. 5, LeBlanc hasn't been able to get back to the bridge in nice weather to check things out for himself.
He says he's hoping it doesn't take the province until the next serious accident, or worse, for them to take action.
After meeting with LeBlanc, Skabar said he also met with Buffy White, area manager with the transportation department, whose response, Skabar said, was predictable.
Skabar said what White had told the Amherst Daily News shortly after LeBlanc's accident in that the department had done an inspection on the bridge and determined it to be appropriate for the utilization it serves.
"But regardless of the fact that it's deemed safe for the traffic it serves, Gregg LeBlanc doesn't feel it is safe for motorcyclists," said Skabar, adding he's not sure if paving is appropriate for the bailey bridge.
LeBlanc is also trying to set up a meeting with Cumberland South MLA Murray Scott on the issue, since the bridge he had his accident on is in Scott's riding. He has yet to reach Scott.