Roads will re­main im­per­fect

The Compass - - EDITORIAL -

New­found­land and Labrador will never be in the clear when it comes to the state of its roads. It’s a for­gone con­clu­sion that once the win­ter passes, some cracks and holes will start to emerge. Ev­ery few years (or prob­a­bly ev­ery year in some cases), there’ll be more work needed to fix up the roads.

For the stretch of Route 70 go­ing from Roaches Line all the way through to Har­bour Grace, get­ting it looked af­ter is prob­a­bly prov­ing more dif­fi­cult these days than in years past.

It re­mains a pro­vin­cial road, and was the pri­mary route for get­ting to Car­bon­ear when com­ing from St. John’s. The in­tro­duc­tion of the Vet­er­ans Me­mo­rial High­way changed all that. While a place like Bay Roberts filled with shops would still get a fair bit of traf­fic, other com­mu­ni­ties have likely wit­nessed a dra­matic de­crease in traf­fic vol­ume.

But even with re­duced traf­fic, the el­e­ments still do their dam­age on an an­nual ba­sis. Mean­while, towns re­main re­liant on the pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment to find the money to fix these roads. Un­like mu­nic­i­pal roads, where towns can en­gage in cost-shar­ing projects to fix them up, Route 70 is en­tirely the province’s re­spon­si­bil­ity.

In his let­ter to the editor you can read on the same page as this ed­i­to­rial, reader Bill West­cott dis­cusses the state of the high­way (or road, as he prefers to call it) from South River to Clarke’s Beach. He calls it “a tick­ing time bomb.”

Bay Roberts has looked at the pos­si­bil­ity of tak­ing over a por­tion of the high­way, with the logic be­ing this would give the town more free­dom to en­gage in road­work and side­walk projects. Such an ar­range­ment might also help with at­tract­ing the funds nec­es­sary to make road im­prove­ments, given the town would now be look­ing at shar­ing some of the as­so­ci­ated costs with the province.

Some might la­bel this as a form of down­load­ing ex­penses to mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties. Be­yond pay­ing for road re­pairs, towns would also need to take into con­sid­er­a­tion how they would man­age snow­clear­ing when as­sum­ing con­trol of a pro­vin­cial road.

But it’s also clear that these roads are no longer be­ing used as they were decades ago. They do not rep­re­sent the pri­mary route for peo­ple trav­el­ling to-and-from the Conception Bay North re­gion.

Rather than wait for the province to cough up all the money needed for this work, per­haps it’s bet­ter for towns to take a pro-ac­tive ap­proach.

Un­like mu­nic­i­pal roads, where towns can en­gage in cost-shar­ing projects to fix them up, Route 70 is en­tirely the province’s re­spon­si­bil­ity.

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