New passing lanes and rumble strips should be in place on the Veterans Memorial Highway by early summer, according to Newfoundland and Labrador’s transportation minister.
Work to overhaul a stretch of the highway linking the Trans-Canada to the Conception Bay North region began last year in response to public pressure concerning safety on Route 75. The highway has been the scene of several fatal accidents over the years.
Last summer, the provincial and federal government jointly announced $4.8 million in spending for the highway and Route 70, where two ramps are being linked to Valley Road in Carbonear to eliminate the need for motorists to cross the main highway. The introduction of rumble strips along the centre line is a first for the province.
In an interview with The Compass, Transportation and Works Minister Steve Crocker confirmed three of the four climbing lanes have subgrade in place. Government issued a tender last week — to close March 20 — for work on the fourth lane.
“We anticipate early spring work on the fourth and final passing lane,” Crocker said. “Then we will be calling the paving tender — which will include the four passing lanes and the Carbonear on-and-off ramps — before the end of March.”
A further tender for the rumble strips on Veterans will also be issued later this spring — Crocker likens its use to a pilot project of sorts for the province. They’re meant to keep drivers alert and help them avoid crossing over into oncoming traffic.
The subgrade for the ramp in Carbonear was finished last year, leaving only the laying of some crushed stone and pavement.
However, Crocker said the province came to an agreement with the town over the winter to also set up a pedestrian underpass to help link the Nell Finn Walking Trail to areas west of Route 70.
At times last fall, the work of construction crews along Veterans Memorial Highway required a rerouting of traffic to the Conception Bay Highway.
Crocker said motorists can expect similar detours during the upcoming construction season.
“With the fourth climbing lane (going) to tender … we would anticipate we will again be using detours because (with) the magnitude of that type of work you have blasting, you have an extreme amount of heavy equipment on the roadways.”
It has been a considerably cold winter of late, but Crocker does not believe this will create any issues for getting started on the work that remains for Veterans Memorial Highway or Route 70.
“You’re talking spring, so by the time we get this contract awarded, I don’t really see winter being a factor by the time we get to that stage,” he said, noting most asphalt contractors do not start up their plants until late May.
Posts for signs to electronically monitor and display speeds on Veterans were recently installed.
“The work is continuing to get where we want to be with the highway,” Crocker said. “We hope to have all the work, including the rumble strips, completed by early summer.”