A bumpy road
Carbonear, Heart’s Delight-Islington revive discussions on connecting towns
It has been almost two decades since a proposal was turned down to upgrade the overgrown road that connects Line Road in Carbonear to Country Road in Heart’s Delight-Islington.
But now, Carbonear Mayor George Butt Jr. and Heart’s Delight-Islington Mayor Clayton Branton are ready to reignite the conversation and get the road completed.
At the time, the idea was not approved because there were already two roads — the Heart’s Content Barrens and the New Harbour Barrens — that connected the Trinity and Conception Bays.
The stretch is roughly 20 kilometres from one side to the next, with five kilometres or so on each side already up to an acceptable standard for driving. There are several cabins used year round in the area.
A file containing documents from the late 1990s and early 2000s confirms the province classified it as a Class 4 — seasonal or cabin — road.
Although both towns have never given up hope that it would someday be fully accessible, the idea faded into the background.
It has been decades since the road was fully accessible for all vehicles. Now, most of it can be reached on a 4x4 truck, and the rest, only by an all terrain vehicle or a snowmobile.
Butt remembers when he used to do plumbing jobs in Heart’s Deligt-Islington years ago.
“I had a job over there,” he told The Compass. “But I would take a cube van the whole way. Can’t do that now.”
The residents of Branton’s town stepped in when Country Road was impassible, which allowed better access to local cabins.
“On this end, we’ve had a lot of work done in the last four or five years,” he explained. “The town took up a collection of money, gave it to a developer and he took the boulders out of it.”
In Carbonear, the road is paved on most of Valley Road and turns to gravel, but it is still accessible for several kilometres.
Creating a plan
Although the idea has been dormant for such a long time, town leaders from both municipalities were ready to discuss ideas for the road at a recent meeting in Carbonear.
Thursday, March 19, at the Conception Bay Regional Community Centre, Butt and Branton were joined by Carbonear Coun. Bill Bowman and Heart’s Delight-Islington Deputy Mayor Clarence Chislett and Coun. David Dowlow. Carbonear’s economic development officer Kai Bath was also on hand for the discussion.
Bath will help organize a formal plan to present to both municipalities and other levels of government, based on three criteria — the provincial government getting on board, knowing exactly what it is that needs to be done to bring the road to par and the economic impact.
It will not be a cheap project, but all involved are willing to settle temporarily with using Grade A fill and not paving the road. The municipalities will also have to consider how much they will be willing to put into the development of the road.
In an email from the Department of Transportation and Works, spokesperson Jacquelyn Howard told The Compass there are no plans at this time for the road to receive any upgrades.
Having the road open is not just an easier access to travel back and forth. As Bath explained, economic impact is a big reason for considering the upgrade.
Carbonear has a hospital, a new state-of-the-art elementary school and a shopping centre. Both places have historical sites and tourist attractions to visit as well.
Branton believes cutting down the time it takes to travel would be beneficial for seniors from Heart’s Delight-Islington who shop in Carbonear and attend medical appointments. Butt and Bath agreed. “A regional approach to economic development is key,” Bath noted. “It’s a marriage between the two regions.”
Where it will be the first time the suggestion has been brought back to the provincial government, the group wants to make sure every ‘T’ is crossed, and every ‘I’ dotted.
Bath, Butt and Branton expect to make some headway in the next year, but hope the project will be completed by the next municipal election in 2017.
“It’s going to be a struggle, but at least now it’ll be alive again,” Butt explained. “We all agree that it should be done, and we all agree that we’re not going to let it die.”
Line Road in Carbonear meets up with Country Road in Heart’s Delight-Islington, but it is not accessible by all vehicles.