Hamilton River Road given 'emergency' upgrade for upcoming winter season
© Derek Montague
Vehicles drive over some fresh pavement on Hamilton River Road. Before the paving, this section on road in MOT had very deep ruts.
Hamilton River Road in Happy Valley-Goose Bay is expected to be much safer this winter, thanks to some emergency paving done earlier this month.
"We're confident that what's done there in the interim...is going to make it safer this winter," said Happy Valley-Goose Bay Mayor Jamie Snook. "We were also told that the main repairs would happen in the spring. So we're very interested in seeing the road repaired."
Transportation Minister Nick McGrath says the province was hoping to do more extensive work on the road this year. But, according to McGrath, the original contactor pulled out due to lack of available time before the construction season ends.
"(Former Transportation Minister) Paul Davis awarded a contract...which was supposed to be done this year in a certain section of road that got some really bad ruts in it. And that was suppose to be...compacted and repaved," explained Min. McGrath.
"(So) we went back to the drawing board and Humber Valley Paving (did) some emergency fills. So those bad ruts and dips in the road, they will be filled completely with asphalt, which will get us through this winter."
It's those ruts and dips that had many residents concerned about the safety of Hamilton River Road. During the wintertime, when the roads are slick and slippery, those ruts can become a serious hazard.
The emergency paving doesn't cover all of Hamilton River Road, but it has filled in the ruts in several kilometres of the worst sections of the road. Mayor Snook says he's pleased that those safety concerns have been addressed for this winter.
"The ruts were causing people to go off the road...there's been some tragic accidents there. My own wife had a near miss there last winter. Just over time, it's become unsafe," he said.
"We're just happy to see something done in time for this winter and looking forward to more work being done in the spring."
Lake Melville MHA Keith Russell says that he's sure the full repairs will be done on Hamilton River Road in 2014.
“The safety concern on Hamilton River road has been an important issue that my office and I have worked heavily on with the provincial government to get resolved in a timely manner.” Said Russell.
"...Approximately 1.9kms of emergency repairs were done to the road at a cost of $135,000. I am confident the full repairs will be done next year and that for now we made the road a little safer for the coming winter season.”
Although there is more traffic and heavier loads on Hamilton River Road with the Muskrats Falls project underway, Min. McGrath says that the highway is capable of handling the burden.
"Hamilton River Road was designed to handle this heavy industrial traffic. Hamilton River Road is a fairly wide road, considering where it's at.
"Now, what you do have to keep in mind is the age of Hamilton River Road. And a lot of the wear and tear on Hamilton River Road...it's not because of traffic from Muskrat Falls - it's wear and tear from a highway that's aging."
Min. McGrath does admit, however, that the traffic caused by Muskrat Falls could cause more damage over the next few years.
"So let's monitor it. Let's keep a close a really close eye on what we have now. If there's damages done in the process of Muskrat Falls being built...well than (we'll) address it afterwards."