The Honourable Tom Hedderson, the provincial Minister of Transportation and Works, recently took time from his busy schedule to talk about transportation issues facing residents in the Coast of Bays.
Residents in Gaultois are upset that the Terra Nova, the ferry that usually serves the Gaultois-McCallum-Hermitage run was placed on the South East Bight –Petit Forte run.
This is causing a fair deal of disruption in the ferry service affecting the communities mentioned above.
Minister Hedderson said that earlier this year that the owner of the Winchester, the ferry that was serving South East Bight, became aware of the fact that the vessel needed significant repairs and decided to pull out of that particular contract.
While the provincial government is currently looking for a replacement vessel for the Winchester, the Terra Nova is being used to fill that run.
The Sound of Islay, which was called in to provide service for the Marine Voyager that is currently on refit, is also serving the Gaultois-McCallum-Hermitage in addition to serving Francois and Grey River.
This means that the Sound of Islay has to travel as far up the coast as Burgeo. All of this is causing a major disruption and change for the residents of the affected communities.
Minister Hedderson said, “The Rencontre-Pool’s Cove-Bay L’ Argent ferry will also go on refit soon so the issue in Gaultois will continue for the next little while.
“Unfortunately, the Gallopi can’t do the Ramea-Francois run simply because the distance is too great and there would be too much of a turn-around time between trips.
“We are working with the community of Gaultois on this issue, and we are providing a helicopter service to help get passengers back and forth to and from Gaultois and McCallum.
“We’ve talked with the helicopter pilot about possibly providing a shuttle service for passengers when they land in Hermitage but to this point in time (June 18) this issue has not been solved.”
Heddderson said that while the provincial government recently provided two new ferries for the provincial fleet, the company that built those vessels wanted to go back and revisit the cost of the third new ferry that will replace the Sound of Islay.
He said that the government is currently trying to work out a deal to have work on this third new vessel begin as soon as possible.
He stated that the five new vessels promised for the South Coast might be built at smaller shipyards in the province as opposed to possibly being built in Marystown. Government is hoping that work on some of those new vessels will begin at least by 2013.
According to Minister Hedderson, the only major roadwork that will be completed on Route 360 in 2012 is the three km that were announced for the Tower area in the 2011 budget.
This, in effect, means that no major roadwork in the Coast of Bays will be forthcoming form the 2012 proncial budget.
Minister hedderson said, “There may be some minor work done on Rout 360 in repairing broken pavement but basically, there will be no other major work done on Route 360 in 2012 other than what was announced in 2011.
“This carry over work is the most we can do in 2012 as this is a deficit year and the dollars needed for road work are pretty thin.
“We have spent about $8 million on road work in Fortune Bay-Cape La Hune since 2005-2206 so, when compared to other regions, you guys re up there.
“Most of the road money for 2012 had to go to essential projects throughout the province in bridge work and in replacing culverts.
“The needed road work on the Trans Canada Highway trumps you guys again in 2012 as more people use this highway in all regions of the province.
“However, we are fully aware of the road issue on Route 360 and we have identified sections of that highway that really needs repair work. Over the next two to three years we hope to be able to complete the work needed on that particular section of our province’s road system.”