Sec­ondary route from Cen­tral to West Coast be­com­ing a re­al­ity

Province re­plac­ing bridges

The Gulf News (Port aux Basques) - - News - BY PA­TRICK MUR­PHY Pa­trick.mur­phy@tc.tc

A pro­posed mid-is­land road con­nec­tion from the Bur­geo high­way to cen­tral New­found­land has taken an­other step closer to be­com­ing a re­al­ity for cen­tral New­found­land res­i­dents.

For the past three years the South West Joint Coun­cil group has been lob­by­ing the provin­cial gov­ern­ment to re-es­tab­lish a se­ries of former wood roads in the area.

The Joint Coun­cil is a lobby group made up from 14 towns from Cape St. Ge­orge to Rose Blanch.

The pro­posed new route would not only mean a shorter trip across the is­land, but also pro­vide a safety net for res­i­dents.

“We’re quite aware now a heavy rain­fall can ac­tu­ally break the Trans Canada High­way some­times in sev­eral places at once,” said Peter Fen­wick, Joint Coun­cil Chair­man. “An al­ter­nate route makes a lot of sense, es­pe­cially if the Bur­geo high­way is gone.”

Re­cent rains from Hur­ri­cane Michael made the route down Bur­geo high­way im­pass­able. Al­though at this point re­pairs have been af­fected to the high­way, orig­i­nal es­ti­mates for the re­pairs were up to two weeks.

Once the bridge re­pairs have been com­pleted Fen­wick says there are a “cou­ple of washouts” that have to be ad­dressed and then it’s on to the ex­ploratory stage.

“The Mayor of Bur­geo, Bar­bara Barter, and my­self were go­ing go to take a run through it, just to see what con­di­tion it’s in,” Fen­wick told The Ad­vertiser last Wed­nes­day morn­ing.

“And to get a feel­ing for what we have to do in the fu­ture to make it a route that can at least be used in the spring, sum­mer and fall.”

It would seem gov­ern­ment has been lis­ten­ing.

“The Depart­ment of Fish­eries, Forestry and Agri­foods, through its Cap­i­tal Re­source Roads Pro­gram, has an obli­ga­tion to the res­i­dents of New­found­land and Labrador to en­sure for­est re­source roads are safe and en­vi­ron­men­tally sound,” Con­nie Boland Me­dia Re­la­tions Man­ager for the Depart­ment of Forestry and Agri­foods stated in a re­lease is­sued to the Ad­vertiser Wed­nes­day. “The bridges at Portage Lake and Ot­ter Pond Brook are be­ing re­placed be­cause the struc­tures were deter­mined to be un­safe for pub­lic and other users. Lloyds River Re­source Road is an im­por­tant road net­work for for­est re­source de­vel­op­ment.”

While not quite a prom­ise to cre­ate a new road sys­tem, for south-west cen­tral res­i­dents it is a wel­come im­prove­ment.

“To be fair, the gov­ern­ment was very co­op­er­a­tive, they told us what the prob­lem was, told us what there bud­get was…,” said Fen­wick. “They basically just went ahead and did it. I called them up and said I was sort of hop­ing they would no­tify us, but that doesn’t mat­ter. As far as we’re con­cerned, it’s done.”

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