Petten giving minister chance to prove there’s no politics in road work

Conception Bay South MHA Barry Petten is disappointed that the portion of Route 60 within his district was left out of the latest version of the province’s five-year road plan, but he isn’t ready to politically disembowel the Minister of Transportation just yet. Rather the PC member is giving Steve Crocker an opportunity to live up to a commitment he has made to search for savings in the $77.2 million road work program this year that can be directed towards this area.

“Route 60 is probably the fifth busiest road in the province,” said Petten. “The traffic volume is probably over 20,000 vehicles a day. And it requires more attention. I understand there are a lot of communities looking for upgrades to roads and there’s only so much money to go around, but Route 60 is nowhere to be found on the five-year roads program again this year.”

Petten said he spoke with Crocker right after the minister announced the roads update. That’s in addition to the daily reminders his office sends the department about potholes and places that need repair, he added.

“We need more sustainable repairs done to the road,” said Petten. “So after the announcement I did contact Minister Crocker and his commitment to me was that we would continue talking. He’s aware of my concerns. His commitment to me was that they do get savings in this work and he’s aware of Route 60 issues and his commitment is to work with me to see if we can’t get some repairs done. It’s not a firm commitment, but I am working with him and am willing to give him the benefit of the doubt… Hopefully we will get some more of those needed repairs this summer, but time will tell. I will continue to speak to the minister and keep the dialogue open and hopefully we will see some results before the year is out.”

Petten said some parts of the road are in much worse shape than others. “One section I’ve identified is from Peachytown Road pretty well up to Red Bridge Road,” he said. “For a continuous stretch it’s one of the worst areas, I think, that needs immediate attention. But there are other areas, down by Greeleytown Road, down in Long Pond. I want the residents to realize that it’s something that’s very important to me and it’s something I am working on and it’s not far from my thoughts every day. I drive over the road everyday and it’s in the forefront of my mind on a daily basis. Everyone is aware of my concerns and I’ve just got to keep plugging and hopefully at the end of the day it will bear some fruit.”

The department supposedly prioritizes its road work on a scoring system that takes assesses factors including asphalt conditions and traffic volume. “It’s something I’ve been after from him and the department for a long time, to release the scores of all the roads,” Petten said. “Even if we’re not on the list, where do we score? Where does Route 60 fall on the big master list? They will not release it and I don’t know why. Obviously, they’ve got a reason. But I’ve asked for that over and over publicly in the House of Assembly, I’ve sent out news releases, I’ve e-mailed and called the minister, whatever angle I could do and no way could I get that scoring. That’s what I’d like to see… To me it’s a no brainer that that road should be scoring high enough to be on that list. But for some reason it’s not. I don’t know if that’s political. It may very well be. The game I’m in, I know, is politics, but sometimes you’ve got to leave that at the door and that’s what the five year roads program was supposed to do, take the politics out of paving. So I certainly hope politics is not being played up here because it’s a PC district. That would fly right in the face of what they’ve been promoting about the five-year roads plan. But it’s very frustrating and I’m concerned about it.”

By Craig Westcott

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