While support for the mid-island route is now coming from the Stephenville town council, there’s one member of the Burgeo town council that personally doesn’t support it.
Coun. Richard Blagdon said the route is scenic to him, “but that’s all you got.”
Deputy Mayor Mike Tobin said the Stephenville town council has had a “change of heart” when it comes to supporting the proposed mid-island route.
That’s the dirt road that leads through the interior of the province from a section of the Burgeo Highway to Buchans.
There was concern by the Stephenville town council and others in the Southwest Coast area that money spent on this road would be to the detriment of getting other highways and byways done in certain areas.
Mayor Tom O’Brien had stated publicly that any money for roads should go towards first upgrading White’s Road leading into Stephenville.
However, prior to the Southwest Coast Joint Council meeting held in Rose Blanche on the weekend, Tobin said members of the Stephenville town council learned there essentially are two different pots of money (so to speak) allotted for roads in the province.
He said there is an allotment for the highways and byways. Then a separate allotment for resources roads, like the mid-island route. Such roads are for access to forest and mining resources and if the money is not spent there, it will be spent elsewhere on other such roads in the province.
“We’re in support of the mid-island route as long as the money spent is from the resource road budget only,” Tobin said. “But in saying that, White’s Road is still very important to us (Stephenville town council).
Blagdon said when it comes to time, he don’t really see any benefit for people in Western Newfoundland other than Burgeo, as residents from the community don’t have to backtrack.
He said people from Stephenville, the Port au Port Peninsula out to Port aux Basques first have to travel 51 kilometres on the Burgeo Highway, another 96 km to Buchans and then 98 km to reach the Trans-Canada Highway in Badger and an addition 28 km to Grand Falls-Windsor.
Blagdon said there’s only about 40 km of savings and you have to drive at a lower rate of speed with a good distance on a dirt road.
He said other disadvantages are that you lose cell coverage along the route and it would open a route that would bypass weight scales, leaving an access for people to drive overweight.
Blagdon doesn’t think it will bring the tourists to Burgeo, since the town is located too far off the path to make a difference.
He said as for an emergency road, leave it as a resource road and it could still be used in the case of an emergency, such as a fire or flood.