Labrador member of parliament Yvonne Jones wants to know why some paving projects in Labrador are behind schedule and what the province is doing about it. Jones took to social media recently with questions about paving on Route 510, the Trans-Labrador Highway (TLH), and why the tendered project hasn’t started yet this year.
“We are last to see any work starting on the highway,” she said.
“It’s not the first year, it’s a continuing issue, year over year. People in Labrador are just fed up. If this were any other highway, it would be completed right now. It’s taking forever to do it.”
According to the Department of Transportation and Works (TW), the company that has the contract, Johnson’s Construction out of Corner Brook, has until the end of this paving season to complete 80 km between Happy Valley-Goose Bay and Cartwright Junction and prepared the roadbed last year.
“Road work that started in 2019 has resumed this year, such as crushing of granular and placing class A granular, which is necessary to take place before paving,” a statement from the department read. “The company has met the obligations of the contract and is preparing to complete paving on this contract this construction season.”
Jones said she doesn’t understand how it would be possible for them to complete the contract this year, considering the company hasn’t begun yet, paving in Labrador averages a kilometre a day and the end of the construction season in Labrador is usually early October, weather dependant.
“It’s not the first year, it’s a continuing issue, year over year. People in Labrador are just fed up. If this were any other highway, it would be completed right now. It’s taking forever to do it." — Yvonne Jones
Roadwork costs on the TLH are cost-shared between the provincial and federal governments. Jones said as a representative of the federal government she wants to know why the roadwork this summer hasn’t begun yet.
“Some of this money has been approved federally for about three years now,” she said. “We’ve been approving money for this section of highway and cost-share it. When those tenders go out you expect those companies to be there to start the work and that’s not occurring.”
Jones said she was told by the company the equipment needed for the paving was moved from Labrador to the island and would be sent back to Labrador soon. If they can’t meet the requirements for completing the contract on time, she wants penalties imposed.
“It was here, it was in Labrador and for some reason, in June they moved it out,” she said. “By the time it gets back here that gives us about five weeks paving. We’re lucky if we get 30-40 km paved this year.”
Jones said there are penalties that can be imposed for a company not completing a contract on time and she wants to know if those are enforced and if they will be if the company can’t complete the 80 km this year.
Transportation and Works said there are clauses in many road work contracts regarding ‘liquidated damages’ if contractors do not meet the requirements of the contract.
“However, Johnson has submitted a schedule that indicates paving on the two-year contract awarded last year will be completed this year,” the statement read.
They also awarded the company a tender for 2020 to pave 127 km of the TLH, which TW says they have until 2022 to complete.
SaltWire contacted Johnson’s Construction regarding the road work, but a reply was not received by publication deadline.
Evan Careen is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter covering Labrador for the SaltWire Network