McGrath ready to tackle Transportation & Works portfolio
© TC Media file
Labrador and Aboriginal Affairs Minister Nick McGrath was handed another portfolio in the Oct. 9th cabinet shuffle — Transportation and Works.
The Minister Responsible for Labrador and Aboriginal Affairs was handed one of the biggest portfolios in cabinet last week.
Nick McGrath was named Minister of Transportation and Works, in addition to his current duties.
‘It’s a great feeling when the Premier calls you up and tells you she’s pleased with your work and she’s promoting you,” said Min. McGrath on Thursday morning.
“But I am also a little nervous — this is a large department to wrap your head around.”
McGrath said through his role as Minister of Labrador and Aboriginal Affairs, he is “very up to speed” on the Trans Labrador Highway file, from one end to the other.
“We have come a long way,” he said. “Phase I is ahead of schedule and there is only about 60 kilometers left to pave. Many people have told me it is a pleasure to drive — something you didn’t hear 25 years ago.”
McGrath acknowledges the highway from Red Bay to Lodge Bay is in “rough shape” but pointed out it is a part of the highway that is under construction.
“People do need to remember it is under construction,” he said.
“We have a crusher in there now — which I requested of the former Minister of Transportation and Works — so we’ll put some top on the worst spots to make it safer and accessible. But we have to be fiscally prudent as well. We can’t spend $1 or $2 million dollars on class A gravel, only to have to tear it up when that part of the road is ready to be reconstructed.”
McGrath also noted the major work completed on the Goose Bay to Cartwright junction this year and says everything is moving forward at a steady pace.
Hamilton River Road
McGrath said the increase in industrial traffic due to Muskrat Falls will be monitored, especially as it impacts Hamilton River Road — the main drag through Happy Valley-Goose Bay — which falls under the Department of Transportation and Works.
“There will be heavy traffic through that area for the next 18-24 months, but we can’t put the cart before the horse,” he said.
“Once the equipment is in (for Muskrat Falls), if it needs to be resurfaced and repairs need to be done at that time, it will be looked at.
“But we can’t make decisions (about repair) based on anticipated (damage).”
McGrath pointed out the Department have also planned for the building of two new ferries for Labrador — one each for the north coast and the Straits.
“They will be roll-on, roll-off vessels,” he noted. “We have a target date of 2016 for these vessels to be completed and in service.”
McGrath added there would also be a 15-year tender in place for these new ships.
“This will be a large investment for some company; we need to make it worth their while,” he said.
As the MHA for Labrador West, McGrath said he realizes there will be big expectations of him in his new role.
“I feel I have worked diligently over the last two years, I have worked hard and I will continue to do that,” he said.