Transportation Minister says reconnecting Burgeo highway to the province is a bigger job than some others
Transportation Minister Al Hawkins says repairs to Route 480 will take some time after washout.
Reconnecting the Burgeo Highway is a priority for the provincial government after the Thanksgiving Day storm. But it may take a little time. On Oct. 12, Transportation and Works Minister Al Hawkins was touring areas where roads were washed away after the remains of Hurricane Matthew passed over the island.
Hawkins was asked about Route 480, which connects Burgeo to the Trans-Canada Highway (TCH). A major washout on the highway left residents of Burgeo, Ramea, Francois and Grey River stranded.
Hawkins said the repairs are a priority, but early indications were it would take at least a week to get the road open.
“It’s an area we’ll be concentrating on, but it’s a bit of a bigger job than some of the others,” Hawkins said.
Route 480 has long been a source of concern for residents due to lack of maintenance over the years.
Just this year, approximately 90 culverts were replaced along the road. Hawkins said his understanding was the washout occurred in an area where the culvert had not yet been replaced.
Hawkins was asked if the some of the damage to Route 480 could have been avoided if repairs had been before this year, but the minister said that would be difficult to answer.
“We could never guess that,” he said. “One of the things we have to face in this province is that we do have, in some areas, aging infrastructure that has certainly been compromised over the years. We are doing the best we possibly can and paying some attention to the Burgeo Highway.”
Burgeo-La Poile MHA Andrew Parsons said he was happy the province was stepping up quickly to solve the problem.
The road previously washed out in 2014, but repairs went a little faster because it was the only emergency in the province.
“Your resources are split a lot of different ways,” Parsons said. “They’re dealing with this not just in Burgeo.”
Washouts across the province created problems throughout last week. The most significant was the TCH through Terra Nova National Park, which only reopened to traffic on Wednesday evening.
Parsons said there’s no doubt people are frustrated, but for the most part they have been understanding given the circumstances.
“Now it’s just a matter of working through the logistics and the practicalities of getting people where they have to go in as sensible fashion as we can,” he said.
Transportation and Works Minister Al Hawkins