PLANNING A ROAD TRIP THIS SUMMER? WE’VE GOT AN IDEA
Route connecting Buchans and Burgeo road set to reopen
After five years of persistent effort, the road between Buchans and Burgeo has been restored and will be usable for most motor vehicles once the snow melts in spring.
According to Peter Fenwick, mayor of the Town of Cape St. George and chair of the South West Coast Joint Council, the last part of the road has been graded and several bridges in danger of collapsing were replaced.
“(Government) cut back the brush, they did the ditching, they did quite a bit of work over about a three or four-year period,” he told the Advertiser.
Although using the route would trim more than 200 kilometres off the drive from the southwest coast towns of Burgeo and Ramea to central Newfoundland, users shouldn’t expect highway conditions.
“It’s a forest access road, so it’s not kept in the same conditions as the Trans-Canada,” he said. “You will not be able to go very fast, maybe 50, 60, 70 kilometres an hour is as good as you can make on the best parts of it.”
Fenwick also warns users to make sure they have a full tank of gas before setting out, as there are no gas stations along the route.
And signage is not what a driver would expect to see on the TCH, he said.
“Because it’s a forest access road, they don’t put signage up,” said Fenwick. “For us who know where it is, who know where the turns are, that’s no problem, but for people who are just going through there as tourists, they would get lost.”
The joint council has developed about 20 basic signs, “which essentially just say ‘Buchans’ on one side and ‘Burgeo Road’ on the other, and there will be arrows on them,” said Fenwick.
Joint council vice-chair and Burgeo Mayor Barbara Barter, along with other cabin owners around the reopened stretch of road, have agreed to help put signs up as soon as the weather permits.
Buchans Mayor Derm Corbett sees the potential for economic growth the road creates for the area.
“We’ve have ATVers who’ve come that route in packs and bunches, and they’ll gas up and go over and have a lunch or a meal,” he said. “At certain times of year they’ll go on in (to town) and have a look around the museum and spend some time. So there’s no question about it, having that route open (will stimulate local economy).”
Corbett also sees the practicality of the route along with its economic benefit.
“People in pickup trucks, the people in four-wheel drives, they will actually take that route and cut a couple of hours off a trip to Port aux Basques.”
Fenwick says the road opens up an interior area of the province that many people don’t get the chance to see.
“It’s absolutely gorgeous, it’s a beautiful stretch of land,” Fenwick said. “The fact that we haven’t developed the tourist potential there is a crime, and this is the kind of thing that will start that.”
Fenwick is hopeful the road usage will open a few eyes in provincial government.
“I’m hoping that in the future enough demand will have occurred, and we’re at a point where the province will look at it and say, ‘well maybe this should be a highway.’”
Peter Fenwick and Barbara Barter, the chair and vice chair of the South West Coast joint council, celebrate the reopening of the route connecting Buchans and the Burgeo road.
The road from Burgeo to Buchans could cut at least two hours off the drive from the south coast to the capital.