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PAB passing lane plan

Codroy, Doyle’s intersection and Burgeo also scheduled for upgrades

Construction of a new passing lane for the Trans Canada Highway is underway near the former town dump outside of Channel-Port aux Basques. – © René J. Roy / Wreckhouse Press

By Jaymie L. White Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

PORT AUX BASQUES — Now that winter is over and construction season is well underway, residents on the Southwest coast will soon see an expansion on the Trans Canada Highway (TCH) just outside of Channel-Port aux Basques. On May 1, the Executive Council of Transportation and Infrastructure announced additional improvements that will be made to the TCH in order to increase safety and access on provincial highways. A joint investment by the provincial and federal governments of more than $306 million was announced, signifying the expansion of the TCH by adding two additional sections of divided highway. “Our government is committed to improving our province for the benefit of all Newfoundlanders and Labradorians. These significant infrastructure projects will help strengthen the reliability of year-round connectivity between communities, while also making our roads safer and more resilient in response to a changing climate,” said Premier Andrew Furey. “Today’s investments will also have a positive impact on our tourism industry, and we look forward to tourists and locals alike enjoying all of this infrastructure for years to come.” Both the Government of Canada and the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador are investing $153 million each. This twinning project is quite extensive and includes a 15 kilometre section between Bishop’s Falls and Grand Falls-Windsor, approximately 40 kilometres of highway heading west from Whitbourne. Twinning these sections will increase the available traffic capacity for travellers and will allow for more separation between the opposing lanes of traffic. The goal for these improvements is also to support better reliability and security of access between rural communities and to strengthen year-round transportation connections. “Projects like these announced today are important for our continued efforts regarding the modernization of our provincial roads infrastructure. They are also significant from a traffic safety perspective, and helping ensure our rural and urban communities are connected to service centres that provide health care and other government-related supports,” said Elvis Loveless, Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure. Construction on the modernization of the province’s roads also means more jobs. “This is great news for all of Newfoundland and Labrador. Highway twinning provides safe and more efficient movement of goods and people throughout our province. The associated construction and spin-off will employ thousands of Newfoundland and Labradorians. This announcement today represents a significant benefit for all Newfoundland and Labrador residents,” said Jim Organ, Executive Director of the Heavy Civil Association of Newfoundland and Labrador. This project will mean that the movement and access to goods and services across the province should also see significant improvement. “Strengthening our supply chains and facilitating the movement of goods and people is key to economic security,” said Dominic LeBlanc, Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, Infrastructure and Communities. As the effects of climate change are felt by communities in Newfoundland and Labrador and across the country, the investment we are making today in the Trans-Canada Highway will ensure Newfoundland and Labrador’s key supply route will be more resilient to extreme weather events.” Having a supply route better able to withstand severe and inclement weather has become even more important on the Southwest coast in the wake of Fiona in Sept. 2022. With additional funding of $20 million, the provincial government will also make significant highway improvements that will mean an addition of 15 kilometres of passing lane to allow for continuous passing lane in the first 30 kilometres leaving Port aux Basques, allowing traffic to flow more effectively during heavier traffic, like when the ferry offloads twice daily. Andrew Parsons, MHA (Burgeo-LaPoile) and Minister of Industry, Energy and Technology, said the construction on the Southwest coast will be a big deal when it is completed. “The first thing is Port aux Basques is the main vehicular entry point in our province, especially in the summer. We all know what it’s like. We’ve got huge vehicle numbers going back and forth, especially when that boat comes in, so this was an opportunity to twin and widen, basically create two lanes for the first 30 km going out,” explained Parsons. “I think it’s going to do a number of things. I think it’s going to make for better driving, safer driving, easier driving, more convenient driving. What won’t it do? I just think it is a great and wonderful thing on a number of fronts.” Admittedly there remain other areas that also require improvements, and Parsons pledged to continue to ensure his riding is properly represented for those discussions. “I continue to advocate for the Southwest coast and thankfully, I think that the statistics and the information back it up and it was a team effort. I’m really proud of the work that has been done and now, if anything, now that the announcement has been made and the money allocated, now it’s about getting it done.” In response to inquiries, the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure issued the following statement via email: “Funding has been allocated for highway improvements that will see an addition of 15 kilometres of passing lane, to allow for a continuous passing lane for the first 30 kilometres leaving Port aux Basques. This will allow traffic to flow more efficiently during peak periods of ferry traffic. This is not a twinning project, but a continuous passing lane. The highway improvements for this additional 15 kilometres is planned to start in 2024, and the duration of construction will be confirmed once detailed design is finalized. “This project is part of the provincial government’s investment of $225 million for highway and road construction for 2023-24, and the multi-year nearly $1.4 billion plan to improve highway and road transportation infrastructure over the next five construction seasons.” According to the department, additional work around the Southwest coast can be expected this summer, though some specific roads were not identified. “Work planned for 2023 in that region includes paving a section of the Trans Canada Highway near Doyle’s intersection, rehabilitation work on Route 480 (Burgeo Road) and various local roads in the Codroy Valley.”

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