POOR ROAD CON­DI­TIONS

St. Lu­naire-Gri­quet mayor wants bet­ter road con­di­tions on Route 436

Northern Pen - - FRONT PAGE - BY MELISSA JENK­INS NORTH­ERN PEN

To ac­cess L’Anse aux Mead­ows, you have to drive on Route 436. But lo­cals, in­clud­ing Mayor Dale Col­bourne, aren’t pleased with the con­di­tion of the roads. Read the de­tails.

Many com­plaints have been brought to the at­ten­tion of Dale Col­bourne, mayor of St. Lu­naire-Gri­quet, about the road con­di­tions near the out­skirts of her town.

Route 436, the only road that goes to the fed­eral his­toric site L’Anse aux Mead­ows, is cov­ered in pot­holes, ruts, dips and par­tial patch­work, none of which is ac­cept­able to Col­bourne.

“There have been no re­pairs for years,” she said.

Some ma­jor con­cerns have been raised by the town to pro­vin­cial of­fi­cials, in­clud­ing the state of the shoul­der of part of the road. It has worn away com­pletely.

There used to be a py­lon there, Col­bourne said. But that has since fallen into the ditch be­low.

“If any­one pulls over on to the shoul­der, their ve­hi­cle will go down into the creek,” she said.

Who is re­spon­si­ble? Parks Canada says 23,873 peo­ple vis­ited the L’Anse aux Mead­ows site in 2015.

There are also homes and other tourism at­trac­tions there as well.

Since the only way to get there is by road, all those peo­ple had to travel along Route 436 to ar­rive to the site. This is in ad­di­tion to reg­u­lar traf­fic.

The road be­longs to the pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment, and has been main­tained from Straitsview to L’Anse aux Mead­ows.

Col­bourne’s con­cern is the rest of the road must be used to ac­cess the site. But without a con­fir­ma­tion road re­pair would be done in the near fu­ture, the ques­tion has been raised on whether the pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment should be foot­ing the bill, or whether the fed­eral gov- ern­ment should be as­sist­ing be­cause it’s the only route to L’Anse aux Mead­ows.

A spokesper­son for the Depart­ment of Trans­porta­tion and Works, Jacquelyn Howard, con­firmed the prov­ince is main­tain­ing the road. Howard pro­vided a writ­ten state­ment.

“The depart­ment has car­ried out reg­u­lar patch­ing over the past num­ber of years, and most re­cently over this past month. Fur­ther work is planned in the com­ing weeks in the area en­ter­ing St. Lu­naire.

“Like other roads across the prov­ince, Route 436 has been iden­ti­fied for paving in se­lect ar­eas. It will be con­sid­ered as part of a multi-year trans­porta­tion in­fra­struc­ture plan that is be­ing de­vel­oped…”

This plan is for the next five years, and it will de­ter­mine projects based on ev­i­dence, re­search and eval­u­a­tion to pri­or­i­tize what will be in­cluded.

“Projects will be pri­or­i­tized ac­cord­ing to cri­te­ria such as safety, con­di­tions, class, eco­nomic im­pacts, pre­ven­ta­tive value and bundling op­por­tu­ni­ties.”

Be­cause it is the road to a ma­jor tourism at­trac­tion, that would be con­sid­ered in the rank­ing, she added.

Fix it But un­til then, the road will re­main in dis­ar­ray, some­thing Col­bourne hopes will be ad­dressed sooner, rather than later.

“The shoul­der is gone in some places, guardrails have been knocked down and not re­placed, signs haven’t been re­placed, there are pot­holes (all over the roads),” she said.

The pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment has al­ready put forth a bud­get that has been heav­ily crit­i­cized for tax­ing and cut­backs. With th­ese de­creases, it’s un­known if or when the road will ac­tu­ally be repaved.

So far, only patch­work has been con­firmed.

The cur­rent patch­work has at least four lay­ers on it al­ready. Those lay­ers are vis­i­ble driv­ing down the road be­cause each patched sec­tion is a dif­fer­ent colour grey.

Col­bourne doesn’t want to see any more patch­work. She be­lieves it’s time for a repaving job.

“I think that by ig­nor­ing ar­eas with a lot of vis­i­tors, we are dam­ag­ing our prov­ince’s chances of re­turn busi­ness,” she said.

“This year we have a lot of ice­bergs, as well as a lot of tourist ear­lier than ever. We need to be do­ing our best to en­sure re­turn tourists and ones that can (re­turn home) and en­cour­age their friends to visit as well.”

PHO­TOS BY MELISSA JENK­INS/NORTH­ERN PEN

Pot­holes on Route 436 to L’Anse aux Mead­ows have been patched nu­mer­ous times over the past few years, but they keep re­turn­ing.

It’s un­known if the road will be repaved in the com­ing years.

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