New asphalt for New Harbour Barrens
Motorists who travel the New Harbour Barrens road are in for a smoother ride.... for a few kilometres at least.
Tenders have been called to upgrade, pulverize and repave five kilometres of the road. The work will start approximately 8.8 kilometres from New Harbour, run for 3.5 kilometres, skip one kilometre and then resume for approximately another 1.5 kilometres. The upgrading is part of a $70 million Provincial Roads Improvement Program, which falls under a $300 million investment in transportation infrastructure announced in the 2009 budget.
According to Jennifer Tulk, communication specialist with the department of Transportation and Works, the tender for the roadwork closed June 2.
“At that time the department of Works Services and Transportation will have a better idea of when the work will start and how much it will cost,” said Tulk.
“Transportation and Works does not dictate to the contractor when work will start, but there
☛ is a scheduled completion date of Sept. 15,” she added.
For years residents, from both Conception and Trinity Bays have complained about the condition of the New Harbour Barrens. In fact the well travelled stretch of highway (route 73) which links Trinity and Conception Bay has been described as an obstacle course.
Randy Smith of Trinity Bay is one of the hundreds of people who use the road to commute to work on a daily basis.
“Certain sections of it aren’t fit to drive on,” he said in a March 17 interview.
Like most people I try to weave my car around them, but that can be dangerous, There are no shoulders left on the road in many places, too many ruts to count and large dips all over the place. If a driver happens to fishtail and hit the edge of the pavement in a place where the shoulders have eroded away, there’s a good chance he or she won’t be able to get their car back on the road or more than likely they’ll hit the loose gravel and then they’re out in a ditch,” he adds.
Randy points out another way the condition of the road could affect public safety.
“The New Harbour Barrens road is a highly travelled road, its used as much, if not more than the Heart’s Content Barrens, “ he said. “It’s also the main route an ambulance has to take to get from Trinity Bay to the hospital in Carbonear. Hundreds of residents depend on that road to get them safely to the hospital and to various businesses in Conception Bay North.”
Between 40 and 50 teachers from Conception Bay also use the road to commute to schools on the Trinity shore every day.
In a May 28 press release Environment minister and Trinity Bay de Verde MHA Charlene Johnson said, “the travelling public in her district would be positively impacted by the improvements.”
“The investments will benefit both residents and visitors alike and provide an economic stimulus to the area,” said Johnson.
Advocating for funding to upgrade the road falls under a priority list established by the MHAs each year.
In the past maintenance work on the New Harbour Barrens was a shared responsibility between Johnson and Butler. However in 2006 the electoral boundaries changed and the road became everyone’s responsibility and no one’s responsibility. The highway now falls under the provincial districts of Carbonear (Jerome Kennedy) and Trinity Bay de Verde (Charlene Johnson). However the New Harbour Barrens is also used daily by hundreds of people from the districts of Bellevue (MHA Calvin Peach) and Port de Grave (Roland Butler).
“None of us are responsible for all of it, but as far as I am concerned all of us are responsible for some of it,” said Butler.“The road isn’t in my district anymore, not even as it once was when Tilton was part of the district of Port de Grave, but I still advocate for repairs to it because it is the main link between the two bays. Many people in Trinity Bay come to Bay Roberts to shop or work and vice versa. Therefore each year, just before budget time, I go to the department of Transportation and Works looking for funding to repair and pave it, However the road is no longer under my district boundary, so I’m pretty limited. I also have many other roads in my district I have to look out for as well.”
Butler says pavement quality and roadwork is a concern across the province.
“The issue was put forth as a resolution during a Municipalities Newfoundland and Labrador convention last year,” he said.“It’s happening in many towns and certainly needs to be looked at and addressed.”
Make work project
Meanwhile Lloyd George, a resident of Whiteway, would like to see the New Harbour Barrens completely paved, as opposed to being “patched up.”
“ It’s a very busy road that connects one side of the bay to the other and the entire thing needs to be paved,” said George. “ By the time they get it all done it will be time to start it all over again.”
George says he has spoiled three car rims in the past two years while driving across the barrens.
“They have been patching it for years and it’s still not fit to drive on. It’s like a make work project where every spring they pave just a part of it, just enough to keep a few people busy for a little while,” he said. “The politicians and government need to get a plan in place to address the conditions of roads in the province like the New Harbour Barrens. They’re the ones holding the purse strings and they’re the ones who say how the money should be spent. The workers who carry out the work are only doing what they’ve been told to do to the best of their ability, this is government’s responsibility.”
Butler is glad some work is being carried out on the road, but like George, he wishes it was more.
“That entire road definitely needs to be done,” he says.“And when budget time rolls around next year I will be making that request once again even though the road is not technically in my district, because I know what it means to the people in my district. I could care less what politician gets the credit for getting the road repaired, just as long as it gets done.”
ROUGH ROAD - Tenders have been called to upgrade, pulverize and repave five kilometres of the New Harbour Barrens. The work will start approximately 8.8 kilometres from New Harbour, run for 3.5 kilometres, skip one kilometre and then resume for approximately another 1.5 kilometres.