Spend more on bridges, roads: NDP

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Barb Sweet
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Telegram report on bridges sheds light on inaction, Murphy says

The Sir Robert Bond bridge over the Exploits River near Bishop’s Falls in central Newfoundland was found to be in overall poor condition when it was inspected this year. Inspectors recommended that repairs take place within a year. — Photo by Krysta Colbourne/Transcontinental Media

A special report on the province’s bridge inspections was searing and shows the Tory government has failed to divert enough monies to the roadway network, says the NDP’s transportation critic.

“It’s a chronic sign of government neglect,” said St. John’s East MHA George Murphy.

A Weekend Telegram report shed light on the state of more than 730 bridges at their last inspections, in many cases 2012, though many others date to 2010 and 2011 and a few even earlier.

One-hundred-and-sixty-eight bridges were found to be in poor condition. One was deemed unsafe and is now closed along with one other.

About two dozen are being repaired, replaced or are likely to have work done in the near future. Government has some others under review or has determined work can wait.

Roughly 420 bridges were listed in fair condition.

Among them was the Sir Ambrose Shea lift bridge in Placentia when it was inspected in 2011. Further testing by consultants — hired by government in the wake of a tender call for its replacement that proved too expensive — discovered it should have a weight restriction until emergency repairs are done.

Last week Transportation and Works Minister Tom Hedderson told The Telegram the “infrastructure deficit” was inherited from the Liberals when the Tories took over in 2003, and that his government  has spent $22 million rehabilitating or replacing some 200 bridges since 2009.

But Murphy estimated Monday the provincial government has taken in upwards of $2 billion in gas taxes over the years and much of that should have been rolled back into crucial bridge work. The revenues from gas taxes in 2011-12 alone were $168 million.

“We haven’t seen the strategic investment on roads,” he said.

“Now government is stuck with this problem and is more focused on other projects (like the multibillion-dollar Muskrat Falls project) than infrastructure deficits.”

As for Hedderson declaring the bridges are all safe, Murphy said it’ll only take one accident to prove otherwise.

And he said it’s wrong to suggest

a lot of the damage is cosmetic, noting the essential safety of guardrails, for instance, to keep people from careening over the side if they lose control.

A common theme throughout many of the reports was missing or deteriorated guardrails.

The reports also detailed crumbling and deteriorating concrete components, exposed rebar, severe erosion and a host of other problems with various bridges.

“I think there is an underlying concern people don’t know what they’re driving over,” Murphy said.

He said by the poor condition of the Sir Robert Bond bridge over the Exploits River, the federal government needs to step up and show its support of the Trans-Canada Highway network in this province.

Murphy said if the NDP was in government, it would shift more funding towards roads and bridges and share with municipalities because such levies as gas taxes are sustainable.

“Your report only put light on that in very strong fashion” he said.

 

bsweet@thetelegram.com

 

Organizations: NDP, Trans-Canada Highway

Geographic location: Placentia, Exploits River

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Recent comments

  • Jon
    June 26, 2012 - 13:08

    I guess the NDP want more funding for everything! Wasn't there a big infrastructure spending spree over the past few years anyways?? If they started spending more on infrastructure now, tomorrows headline would be "Spend more on ". Can't win.

  • Tim Jamison
    June 26, 2012 - 12:41

    Yes, we should be fixing our roads and our bridge, vital parts of our critial infrastructure. Why is the NDP bringing this up? Why isn't this already done? Will this issue topple me back into the left-wing? No. I enjoy having a job, I enjoy being a gun owner and hunter, and I can barely tolerate my taxes at their current levels, thank you very much.

  • crista
    June 26, 2012 - 10:01

    it is bridges now, then signing of confederation then upper churchill, then the baby bonus,then the fisheries, then the oil ,then the inquires,then the moratorian,then justice, then medical,natural resources, the mill? then muskrat falls, now access to information, secret documents seems to me some one is getting their pockets full and who is paying for it, then you ask them to do some thing, they tell you there nothing they can do.WELL if there is nothing they can do why are things going, that are going on???? stop the excuses, and start doing for what your getting payed to do,then that would be leadership????

  • Robb
    June 26, 2012 - 08:22

    Oh, another great idea by the ndp........fix the bridges......really, is that all you got....???.....but that's the way they always are.....a report comes out on something, and the ndp always say the govt should spend more money on it......they are alsolutely a waste of good space in the house.....

  • Eli
    June 26, 2012 - 07:40

    ....And after the Union was blackmailed into concessions in Corner Brook we'll still find millions in one form or another to prop up Joe Kruger rather than bridges? Dunderdale's head is screwed on backward.

  • old rusty
    June 26, 2012 - 06:28

    it's the Liberals fault... where have we heard that comment before? just how close are our provincial tories to the federal reform Government ??