‘It could have been a lot worse’

Bur­geo mayor hopes prov­ince will learn from Thanks­giv­ing storm

The Gulf News (Port aux Basques) - - Front Page - BY BRYAN TAIT

Bar­bara Barter still hadn’t seen the dam­age to the Bur­geo High­way first-hand on Wed­nes­day morn­ing.

Bur­geo’s mayor was stranded in Clarenville, wait­ing for the Trans-Canada High­way to re­open through Terra Nova Na­tional Park af­ter a washout caused by last Mon­day’s storm.

Barter had been at­tend­ing the Mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties New­found­land and Labrador an­nual gen­eral meet­ing in St. John’s and was un­able to get back be­fore the storm.

From a ho­tel room in Clarenville, Barter said she’s seen pic­tures and video of the dam­age to the road and had a good idea of what had hap­pened.

Barter said she’d also spo­ken with the Depart­ment of Trans­porta­tion and Works.

“It could have been a lot worse,” Barter said. “I can pic­ture it, I’ve seen it be­fore.”

Barter said there’s al­ways po­ten­tial for flood­ing when the ground is mostly rock and bog as it is in many parts of New­found­land and as much rain falls as did on Thanks­giv­ing.

“We’ll as­sess those dam­ages when I get back,” Barter said.

But Barter said the main con­cern is get­ting the high­way re­opened as quickly as pos­si­ble.

Cur­rent es­ti­mates from the pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment are that it could take a week to make the road pass­able.

“It is chal­leng­ing,” Barter said. “We need the road open.”

The Bur­geo high­way has long been a source of troubles due to poor main­te­nance. Over the sum­mer, Trans­porta­tion and Works Min­is­ter Al Hawkins vis­ited the area with Bur­geo-La Poile MHA An­drew Par­sons. Dur­ing their trip to Bur­geo, Hawkins dam­aged a wheel on his ve­hi­cle thanks to a pot­hole.

Barter said she wasn’t sur­prised when she was told where this most re­cent prob­lem oc­curred.

Back in 2014, Barter said a lo­cal man recorded some video in the area that showed how the cul­vert was de­te­ri­o­rat­ing.

“We sent the video to the (Depart­ment of Trans­porta­tion and Works) to en­sure that they saw, es­pe­cially af­ter what hap­pened in Wooden Tilt Brook, to say here’s an­other po­ten­tial dan­ger,” Barter said.

In late 2014, a bridge in that area col­lapsed and was re­placed with a bai­ley bridge. One per­son was in­jured in that in­ci­dent.

Barter is hop­ing the cur­rent sit­u­a­tion will push the gov­ern­ment to­ward a multi-year in­fra­struc­ture pro­gram to up­grade roads like the Bur­geo High­way.

Only this sum­mer, work was be­ing done to re­place sev­eral cul­verts along the road. Barter said peo­ple in the com­mu­nity were just start­ing to feel like the road would fi­nally be in de­cent shape.

A meet­ing of the South­west Coast Joint Coun­cil had been sched­uled for Bur­geo on Oct. 15. Barter said the meet­ing was de­lib­er­ately sched­uled for that time be­cause it was thought the road­work would be com­pleted.

Due to the flood­ing and washout, that meet­ing was moved to Cape St. Ge­orge.

Barter also hopes the sit­u­a­tion in Bur­geo and else­where will cause the gov­ern­ment to look at cre­at­ing a sys­tem of al­ter­nate routes through­out the prov­ince.

“It’s not only the sec­ondary routes, but you have places like Terra Nova,” she said. “As one re­porter said, there is only one high­way right across the prov­ince.”

Barter said she’s been ad­vo­cat­ing for some al­ter­nate routes, cit­ing the ex­am­ple of a mid-is­land route that would con­nect the Bur­geo High­way to Badger.

She said there’s a wood road be­ing main­tained, and it needs only min­i­mal up­grades to a gravel road that would give peo­ple sec­ondary ac­cess.

“It’s not as good, of course, but it’s bet­ter than the rail­road bed,” Barter said.

Barter said there are plenty of wood roads and rail beds that could be de­vel­oped.

“You don’t have to rein­vent the wheel,” she said.

Bur­geo Mayor Bar­bara Barter

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