“When all the infrastructure in place now is upgraded, including the terrible state of Route 460 (Burgeo Road), then we should look at other avenues, including the mid-island route,” Joy said in an email to The Western Star.
Joy’s comments come on the heels of the South West Coast Joint Council’s decision to upgrade the mid-island route.
The mid-island route would cut down on approximately 100 kilometres of travel.
However, Joy isn’t the only one to put an emphasis on existing infrastructure.
Coun. Mike Tobin, of Stephenville, is also in favour of repairing local roads.
“To me, the priority for Stephenville would be Route 460. There’s five or six kilometres in particular that is horrible. During the month of February alone, our town put down $15,000 of patchwork to maintain our roads,” said Tobin.
Tobin spoke out against the proposal for prioritizing the mid-island route last year.
“I do support (the mid-island road) but it’s a matter of priority for me,” said Tobin.
The mid-island route had previously been inaccessible due to the poor condition of the South West Brook and Peter Stride bridges.
Both bridges have since been repaired.
Peter Fenwick, Chair of South West Joint Council, said that upgrading local routes and proceeding with the mid-island route are two separate issues.
“We’re not talking about building a new road. We’re talking about maintaining an existing route that will be a gamechanger for the region,” said Fenwick.
Fenwick said that the mid-island route falls under the Department of Forestry, while roads like Route 490 are under the Department of Transportation and Works and are therefore unrelated.
“Frankly, to hear concerns about mid-island road is discouraging and misguided,” said Fenwick.
Burgeo Mayor Barbara Barter, said the mid-island road is integral to the region.
“It has a lot of potential for tourism. As a route for quad-rides, hiking, canoeing, it is a prime access,” said Barter.
Barter also said the route would be helpful for emergency services and would make the rest of the island more accessible.
The mid-island route is currently open but does need signage and brush cutting.
Jacquelyn Howard, the Director of Communications for the Department of Transportation and Works, said via email that work is scheduled for Route 490 in the future.
“For 2017/2018, Route 490 has been identified for culvert replacements and mill and fill,” said Howard. “In 2019/2020, Route 490 is identified for additional mill and fill from the Trans Canada Highway to Route 460.”
The South West Coast Joint Council will be meeting the Minister of Transportation and Works, Al Hawkins, in early May to ask for further support.