Mayor will insist Nalcor use Goose River Road for future shipments
© Derek Montague
A crane lifts a camp module of the ship, which was later hauled to the Muskrat Falls site via Hamilton River Road. The shipments have now stopped for the season, but Happy Valley-Goose Bay Mayor Jamie Snook said council will continue to insist Nalcor use Goose River Road for future shipments of industrial goods to the Muskrat Falls site.
The shipments of the oversized camp modules bound for Muskrat Falls —which caused some controversy and concern in Happy Valley-Goose Bay as of late — may be over for the season, but Happy Valley-Goose Bay’s mayor said this is just the start of much more industrial traffic to come.
“The issue hasn’t gone away,” said Mayor Jamie Snook. “This is the beginning of the project. And there’s just going to be more and more and more industrial traffic over that road. And Nalcor is missing the point; it’s not about engineering of the road or what not.
Snook and his council are sticking to their guns in insisting that Nalcor use Goose River Road for future shipments of industrial equipment —whether are they are oversized or not.
Snook said the Town Council recently discussed the idea of using Goose River Road with Transportation Minister Nick McGrath. In an email to The Labradorian, a representative from the department of Transportation and Works said that it would cost too much money to fix up Goose River Road for industrial traffic.
“The Minister has looked into Goose River Road and it is not a feasible option as estimated costs to make appropriate upgrades for this road would be in the $500,000 range. Mayor Snook is aware,” reads the email.
“It’s hard to understand why you would be developing a project, valued at millions of dollars, and than be ‘nickel and diming’ over fixing up an alternative route,” said Snook.
The latest shipment, which came to the dock on Oct. 25th, contained 24 camp modules, along with six regular sized containers.
And just days before the last shipment of camp modules arrived, a load containing 198 containers came to the dock for transport to Muskrat Falls.
Snook said the issue of transporting industrial loads on Hamilton River Road has left the council frustrated, and says council feels like they’re on the “sidelines,” rather than active participants when it comes to the Muskrat Falls project.
“There’s no reason why there can’t be a solution to an issue like this,” says Snook. “We’re not talking about a big investment or infrastructure. It’s simple common courtesy in my mind.
“The new council is very serious about putting the town’s interests first. And it’s going to be a difficult four years if they continue to develop this project with us on the sidelines.”
The controversy started earlier this month, when 30 oversized camp modules, measuring 64 ft long and 14.6 ft wide, were hauled through town via Hamilton River Road.
The Town felt that using the main road for transporting these oversized loads posed a safety risk, and asked that Nalcor use Goose River Road for all of their shipments.
However, Nalcor Vice-President Gilbert Bennett, in an earlier interview with The Labradorian, said that Goose River Road is not a suitable route for these large shipments.
“(Goose River Road) was discussed to a pretty good length during the environmental assessment,” said Bennett. “(It) wasn’t seen as a step that was necessary. From our perspective, that road is not in very good condition, the road is certainly not suitable to carry large loads.”
Bennett also brushed aside the notion that there were any safety hazards with shipping the modules over Hamilton River Road, saying that every precaution was taken and claiming all vehicles were equipped with flashing lights, flags, oversized load signs, and that all the rigs had escort vehicles in the front and rear.
On top of that, Bennett claims that no modules were transported after daylight hours, nor were they moved during “peak” traffic periods within Goose Bay.
“The whole question of safety was first and foremost in our mind…we had representatives onsite…was satisfied that the appropriate precautions were put in place and that the work was done safely,” says Bennett.