Tracey Perry talks about Route 360

Wesley Harris
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“Committed to Improvements!”

MHA Tracey Perry visited Hermitage-Sandyville on February 5 and sat down with Coaster Correspondent Wesley Harris for a question-and-answer session on Route 360.

It’s a slow process in getting all the necessary paving done on Route 360 – much work needs to be done such as this section just past the Hermitage junction – but MHA Tracey Perry remains committed for continued improvements.




Coaster: A lot of vitriol has been sent your way on Facebook, but amongst the criticism are several good questions. The first one: Will the $1.8 million be carried over to next year’s work on 360?

Ms. Perry: Most definitely!  Actually, there was $456,000 spent in 2013 on prepatory work with culverts and ditching, but the cold weather and snow prevented the contractors from completing any more work.  The remaining $1,344,000 million will absolutely be carried forward.  In fact, work didn’t all get done in 10 districts in 2013, and $11 million will be carried over to 2014.

There was one other year, in 2011, when we didn’t get the contracted asphalt work done and it got carried over to 2012, but about $390,000 did get spent that year for culverts.    I can assure your readers that I have lobbied strongly on residents behalf and I look forward to delivering on my commitment to get our roads improved. 

Coaster: Why didn’t the three kilometers or so get done in 2013’s construction year?

Ms. Perry: The contract to do it was awarded in the summer, but as I understand it, the contractor had a large volume of work throughout the province and the cold weather came before the job could be completed.  There are any number of challenges I guess – a lot did not get done this year, in ten districts, as I said.  Some would say that even if we increased the budget more it would be hard to get the work done as the season is so short here, and there is a high demand for skilled workers – who tend to be mobile.   To help tackle this, we need to make the industry more attractive.  We have already announced $30M in roadwork so that tenders can get out early and we can extend the construction season and help retain these workers.

Coaster:  With all these setbacks, has this been a frustrating year for you?

Ms. Perry: Anytime we get delays like this it is very frustrating, because I do understand the condition of the road and I share the same concerns as all residents.  And again I assure you and your readers, I am “fighting” on the region’s behalf for more funding all the time.  Some of the negativity has spurred me to take a historical look back, and the facts tell an interesting story.   Going back to 1999 (16 years), the region has seen a total investment of about $17 million in roadwork.  I have been the member for six of these years, and have received $10,431,000 of that total - which is nearly doubling the investment in a roughly half the time.  Since taking office, our Government has increased the provincial roads budget from $30M to $60M annually, and we are indeed benefiting from this investment here in the Coast of Bays region, with much more to come! 

CoasterSo what have some of these investments been since your tenure?

Ms. Perry: The number one priority has been route 360; the main highway which services all 6500-plus residents.   Some of the achievements over the last few years include about 15 km of route 360; paving in Milltown (from the Post Office to the school); resurfacing St. Joseph’s Cove hill; resurfacing Airport Road in St. Veronica’s (this took some time, but after much work, we were successful in negotiating a 50% cost sharing arrangement with NL Hydro, which contributed $539,973); several kilometers of asphalt leveling between Hermitage and Harbour Breton, and new walkways for Francois – the only time they received provincial roads funding in about twenty years!

I remember the very first budget after I got elected I was so proud to get paving from Riffs down to St. Joseph’s Cove “gut” as we call it – that area of road was almost as bad as the Camp Ten area is now, and had been like it for years.  Five kilometers got done there too.  In addition, numerous culverts have been replaced in various locations throughout the district.

As well, the maintenance budget has invested heavily in repairing local problem areas, (i.e. the flood area in Belleoram).   There are so many needs everywhere throughout our 22 communities, and in time, we hope to address them all. 

Coaster: What is the process for laying out your requests for roadwork each year?

Ms. Perry: First of all, there are several pots of money for roadwork: The Trans Canada Highway Agreement in which our province cost-shares all work on that highway with the federal government; the Trans Labrador Highway Fund, and the Provincial Roads Program, which funds Route 360 and the other 8000 kilometers of secondary roads in this province (of which about 1000km is gravel road). So the $60million that is allotted to the Provincial Roads annually has to cover all the secondary roads in Newfoundland and Labrador. as well as culverts, ditching, piping and bridges.    The Department maintains a database of all the infrastructure and its current condition, and identifies areas of greatest concern.  In addition, every MHA submits his/her priorities for funding, based on consultation with constituents.

I know the most immediate needs of my district, but each year I hear from the area manager of the Department of Works, Services, and Transportation, the Joint Mayors Committee, individual municipalities, individual emails and community groups like ambulance operators.   Then I meet with the Minister and go through with him the areas of highest priority – he knows about the bad roads in our area – and I always emphasize that ours is a rural area with a growing economy especially in aquaculture which causes a lot of wear and tear on our highway. Right now Route 360 is classified as a low-volume road, and I have requested to have that designation re-assessed considering the volume of heavy-load trucks servicing the aquaculture industry.

After my presentation to the Minister, my requests and those of the other 47 districts go to cabinet which makes decisions on the annual allocation for pavement provincially; every district gets so much, not exactly the same for each depending on various district needs. For example, if a bridge has to be repaired or replaced, that district will get more or if leveling is done (skimming the pavement over what’s already there) versus rebuilding the road (leveling won’t last as long). In our case, for example one culvert, four feet in diameter, cost about $200,000.00, factoring in the cost of the culvert, delivery to the site, and installation.  This varies of course depending on what has to be replaced.

Coaster: Can the allocations be done a different way, say in a priority system as the opposition talks about?

Ms. Perry: We have had discussions on the priority system based on rankings where MHAs and local advocates have no say in the matter, but we’re not exactly sure how it works.  Somewhere in the process a decision has to be made as to what districts are the neediest; I think that even this type of process could get political at some level.  Going with a priority system would mean that some districts would get no pavement for, what, three years, five years. Would that work?  

And who/what defines which road is the “worst”?  For example, I have heard a member of the opposition say that route 360 is not the most dire road in the province; he names the Cape Shore and White Bay as being worse.

Also the municipalities would be affected by such a system. Many of them pave their local roads when the contractors are in their area for the provincial contracts because they can take advantage of better rates then.  If there was no provincial roadwork being done for a few years, it could slow down town councils too.  There are many things to consider for sure.

Coaster: I’m sure the discussion on how to allocate the money, and the complaints about 360 will continue. How thick is your skin?

Ms. Perry: Oh, it’s thick. Not as thick as a baseball mitt, but sinewy for sure (laughs). You know, the residents need to know that I am a strong advocate for the needs of our area, especially the roads, and I would like to be able to say that 30 kilometers will be done on Route 360 in 2014, but in reality that will not happen. I’m pushing for more (than in previous years) in this year’s budget because the roadwork down here requires a substantial investment, and I am committed to working for continued improvements!

Organizations: Post Office, NL Hydro, Trans Labrador Highway Fund Department of Works Joint Mayors Committee

Geographic location: Bays, Milltown, Harbour Breton Belleoram Newfoundland and Labrador White Bay

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Recent comments

  • Paver
    February 25, 2014 - 08:48

    You can crunch the numbers all you want Ms Perry, but you must remember you were elected in a time when we are a have province, also you should know that pavement cost is up substantially. Your answer is based on dollars, mine would be based on the number of kilometers that was paved. Your response means nothing if $10 million paved twice the pavement ten years ago as it does today. You are playing politics again. I think you should have been asked how many kilometers of pavement has been done since you were elected?? I would ask you how many kilometers of bad road do we have now compared to ten years ago?? Why are you not addressing the issues now rather than using what was done or not done in a time when this province had nothing?? What the people want to hear is why all the broken promises?? People need to know why the government keeps pouring the tax payers money into aquaculture rather than making it a loan so the money can be paid back and go to roads?? People need to know are you in a conflict of interest when it comes to the aquaculture industry?? What we read here is a local paper taking the soft approach to allow you a chance to try to gain some of the lost respect back from the public who have not heard straight answers from you in years. Maybe a one on one with David Cochrane of CBC T.V. would have gotten more of the truth to the public. I hope we will see this soon or is that type of forum to hard for you? We will wait and see.

    • Jay
      February 26, 2014 - 21:35

      Well written paver. "People need to know why the government keeps pouring tax payers money into aquaculture rather than making it a loan so the money can be paid back and go to roads?? People need to know are you in a conflict of interest when it comes to the aquaculture industry?? What we read here is a local paper taking the soft approach to allow you a chance to try to gain some of the lost respect back from the public who have not heard straight answers from you in years." What we read here is a Correspondent taking the soft approach to allow Tracey a chance to try to gain some of the lost respect back from the public who have not heard straight answers from you in years. He will surely vote for you next election.

  • Brad
    February 25, 2014 - 07:47

    I seriously tend to question the mentality of some people when they actually buy into the crap that the Liberals say. I would hope that the people in this area would be gullible enough to listen to the liberals who say, "If im voted in, ill have that road fixed in a couple months." Come On!!! I remember all too well what things were like when the Liberals had government and those are times I do not want to live through again. Great job MHA Perry!

  • Marion
    February 24, 2014 - 20:15

    Who ever wants that bunch of reds back in should stay home out of it come election ..I remember those days all too well and I DO NOT want to witness that again.

  • Motorist
    February 24, 2014 - 10:40

    Answers that we have heard before and the road is still dangerous to travel over. The poor snow clearing and road service this winter with ice buildup and center road salting, some cleared faster and better than other sections, have compounded the road situation and condition for us on the south coast. Remember, it's winter and we still have the same road that is classified as the worst road in Atlantic Canada...

    • baymen
      February 24, 2014 - 20:30

      The roads on the route 360 are horrible.There don't be much snow or ice taken of the roads between Belleoram and the Trans Canada Highway.On the highway from Grand Fall's to St.John's,Within a half hour of being sanded the roads are bare.Why can't it be the same with our roads.