Wearing a hard-hat while driving may become obligatory.

Under an Overpass

         I am one of those people who suffer from, among other things, driving through tunnels. There is no particular name for it other than tunnel-phobia and it falls under the claustrophobia group of fears. My worst enemy in this area is the Lafontaine tunnel when approaching Montreal. I, in fact, take highway 40 from Quebec City just to avoid this frightening hole under the St. Lawrence River which for some reason gives me scary thoughts of being trapped and dying, under 12 feet of water and concrete. The scary part is that there is nothing I could do to prevent it from happening and even less if it did. And now with the latest tunnel (viaduct) collapse in Montreal, July 31, 2011, I am getting more and more nervous about driving under anything.         In 2006 we all know that an overpass in Laval collapsed killing 5 people and caused injuries to several others. This “bridge” had apparently been examined by Government workers (engineers?) six months before the deathly incident and had passed inspection. A witness to the whole thing however, who used that road daily, remarked at the scene, that the expansion strips were about six inches apart months before the accident.         In early July 2011 a reinforcement span of metal (rebar) broke loose from an overpass here in Quebec City falling to the road below, which happens to be one of the busiest in the city, without thankfully, causing any injuries or deaths to anyone. Transport Quebec tried to blame this one on a truck which supposedly was too high. This theory was untrue. The overpass in question had apparently also passed an inspection only months before, by we must assume, similar Gov’t engineers, as were the cement slabs in the most recent episode in Montreal.        These three ‘mishaps’ have me concerned about whether or not I can trust any underpass in the province. The inspectors say there is no danger and that they do everything ‘humanly possible’ (Gerard Tremblay) to secure the safety of Quebec roads. Strangely enough, after each calamity, the experts always claim that the particular situation was unavoidable.        Oddly enough, the road I use to travel to Montreal (40) also had a section cave-in somewhere near Trois-Rivieres in 2008. Although this was not an overpass, it was still a section of highway built over a creek making it a supported structure all the same. If it had been previously verified by Transport Quebec is irrelevant, as any inspection doesn’t seem to change anything anyway.         Until everything is repaired in ‘la belle province’ may I suggest we wear hard-hats while driving, though it probably won't help much, say a prayer before entering an underpass, and thank the Lord we made it through one when we do. That’s about all we can do, unless you think crossing your fingers may help.         I for one will be a nervous driver for awhile, at least until someone can assure me that nothing else will be falling on my head or my car for a long time to come; and even if they do, can I really believe them? I think not!Job (nervous) Patstone.