At 112 meters, the Terra Nova T’railway known as the trestle is the sixth largest railway bridge in the province.
But the bridge, which allows access across the Terra Nova River to cabinsthroughway to Glovertown has been deemed unsafe. The T’railway is also a famous year-round destination for snowmobile and ATV adventures.
Terra Nova MHA Colin Holloway said the decision was made in December after considerable consultation with department officials, engineers, key stakeholders and other experts.
“The decision to remediate the trestle can only be completed after we have discussed all options available to us as well as the identification of the necessary funds to do it safely, effectively and efficiently,” said Holloway in a social media post.
Terra Nova resident Harvey Garrett was on site when the decision was made to close the trestle.
He says its closure has a tremendous impact, not only on Terra Nova, but also on the trail way itself.
“Without that trestle you can’t go west on the T’railway. The continuity of the trail is broken,” Garrett told The Packet.
He says it all started in November when an engineering firm from Clarenville came to do survey work. They determined two of the five abutments in the trestle were a danger.
“Three are in water and made of granite stone and they are perfectly OK as I understand it. There are two abutments on land and they are made of poured concrete. Those are the two that they say are in need of repair,” says Garrett.
“I’m not an engineer, but based on observation, those two abutments are no worse now than they were in the last several years.”
He says he can understand closing the road for vehicle traffic, but closing the roadway for ATVs and snowmobiles was an overreaction.
“It’s going to need to be repaired, but I think as long as that’s done in the next 12 months the trestle is perfectly OK for ATVs and snowmobiles,” says Garrett.
There are also quite a few cabins on Chain Lake Pond, which can only be accessed via the trestle, he says.
“Some of those guys are from Charlottetown and I think they are quite upset. For one thing, nobody has been given an adequate explanation as to why this trestle is closed. They just came and closed it. No advertisement explaining the problem and the community council wasn’t given any explanation; it just sort of occurred overnight,” says Garrett.
Terra Nova Mayor Grant Barnes says this began when he went to the provincial government looking for funding to do something about the top on the trestle.
“We ended up getting a new top on the trestle, when the workers were doing that they noticed the movement on it and called the engineers,” says Barnes.
“In saying that, I haven’t been talking to the engineers myself and I haven’t spoke with the trail association since Christmas Eve,” he added.
Barnes says he would like to be given more information on the subject, before this spring because of their forest fire evacuation.
“This time of year it is still a concern with business in the community, but up until right now I haven’t been given any word on if repairs will be done in the near future,” says Barnes.
He also says that the local convenience store, The Dep, will likely have to cut their hours due to lost business.
“Once we get more information we’ll be able to decide what should be done from the town’s perspective. But right now we are just sitting back waiting and officially we
haven’t been told anything,” says Barnes.
Terra Nova MHA Colin Holloway told The Packet in a recent interview their first priority was to protect public safety.
He says they are accessing what’s wrong with the trestle to see what options they have.
“In terms of repairing, replacing, using alternative routes or methods. All of those things are being explored. Of course I’m collaborating with the minister (Environment and Conservation) to look at all of those options so we can make a plan for addressing the situation,” says Holloway.
Holloway says they will be writing every municipality in the local area, from Clarenville to Glovertown, to advise them of the situation. The Department of Energy of Conservation will also be putting up signs along the T’Railway to alert snowmobiles and ATVs that the trestle is closed.
“Communication has started and will continue over the next couple days. We want people to be informed so they can make good decisions on how they are travelling,” says Holloway.