Paving progressing on Trans-Labrador Highway

Bonnie Learning
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Minister confident work will be completed before winter

After many delays, Transportation and Works Minister Nick McGrath says he is confident pavement will be laid on the last 60 kilometres of the Trans-Labrador Highway between Happy Valley-Goose Bay and Churchill Falls before the snow flies this winter. “We have good weather in the forecast for the next while, and they will be averaging about three kilometres a day,” McGrath said on Sept. 4.
“There is sufficient time to get the 60 kilometres done.”
McGrath noted although the original timeline was to see the paving fully completed as of Aug. 30, the paving actually never started until that time.
He noted there were several factors that delayed the project, including the time it took to mobilize all the equipment; the company — Pavex — having to find alternate arrangements for worker accommodations; and finding a company to ensure employees involved with the work were fully certified.
“All this work started around mid-July,” said McGrath.
“Also, before paving started on Aug. 31, a test strip had to be laid the day before to ensure the right grade (of asphalt) was being used, and it passed.”
McGrath noted the contract between the province and Pavex is a two-year, $37 million contract.
“We put out one big tender this time, with several pieces involved, in order to entice more companies to bid,” he explained.
The contract includes paving of the 60 kilometres between Happy Valley-Goose Bay and Churchill Falls; asphalt repairs on Hamilton River Road and widening and paving of the three kilometres of chip seal at the Trans-Labrador Highway-Happy Valley-Goose Bay intersection.
“This chip seal work is pending, as we will not permit a contractor to remove existing chip seal until we have complete certainty that it will be replaced this year,” said McGrath.
“We do not want a gravel section there for the winter and the chip seal is in relatively good condition.”
The contract also includes paving of 80 kilometres between Happy Valley-Goose Bay and Cartwright Junction, which is scheduled for completion in 2015.
Not impressed
Despite McGrath’s outlook on having the 60 kilometres finished by the end of the season, there are people in central Labrador who are not impressed with the progress thus far.
“It's not done and it’s not going to be done this year unless there is a miracle,” said Tammy Smith Smitheram
“Humber Valley Paving should have been held responsible and not gotten their security back — another bad government decision. And the new company doesn't look like it's moving too fast, either.”
However, Brian T.O. Davis has a different point of view on the delay.
“Anyone who works in construction knows there are so many factors that can cause delays in starting or finishing a project, or hamper progress,” he said.
“I travel the road regularly and I can tell you I don't enjoy the wear and tear on my vehicle any more than anyone else, but my frustration is more rooted in not knowing more details about the timelines and delays.
“What I want to see more than resigning ministers and government coups over a stretch of pavement is more detailed and regular communication about these ‘public’ infrastructure projects. At least that way, when I decide to stand up and start banging my fist on a table I can do so in good conscience.”
Other TLH work ongoing
In Labrador West, McGrath said Grey Rock has a two-year contract to upgrade a 15-kilometre section of road between the trailer court in Labrador City to the Fermont, Que., border.
“It was discovered the road itself, in places, has to be rebuilt, as sections of it were down 10-12 feet,” said McGrath.
“Once that work is complete, then paving can start, and should be completed by the end of next season.”
Moving onto the south coast portion of the TLH, McGrath said there is significant work being done.
“I was on the south coast highway (over the Labour Day weekend) and there is significant widening and upgrading of the highway between Red Bay and Lodge Bay,” said McGrath.
He added a contract is also out for work on the TLH between Lodge Bay and St. Lewis.
“We’re hoping to have Class A gravel on that section this year,” he said.
“Also, we are looking at more widening and upgrading between kilometre 80-160.”
McGrath said while he understands people’s frustration on the sometimes less-than-ideal travelling conditions on the south coast portion of the TLH, he asks the public to bear in mind it is still a highway under construction.
“We have invested $684 million to date on the TLH,” he said. “I am very pleased with the progress that is being made and I am looking forward to seeing everything completed.”
 
bonnie.learning@tc.tc
 

Work is progressing on the 60 kilometres of gravel road between Happy Valley-Goose Bay and Churchill Falls, with paving equipment churning out the raw materials for the asphalt needed for the job.

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  • Jim mouland
    September 05, 2014 - 23:18

    After 7 days of paving on Labrador highway there is only 7 mms completed