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Spring 2011 Atlantic Road Report

Bits and pieces of highway-related news and reports from around the Atlantic Region  


NB cellphone driving ban started on April 1.

New Brunswick drivers will be prohibited from using their cellphones and other hand-held devices starting  April 1. The Progressive Conservative government actually passed a new law cracking down on distracted drivers in December, but it has not yet been enforced because of the government wanted to raise public awareness about the issue first. There will be no grace period for drivers who break the law after April 1. The fine for using a cellphone while driving will be $172.50. New Brunswick drivers will be allowed to talk on their cellphones if they are being used in a hands-free manner and to use cellphones while driving to report an emergency or to call 911.


Tenders Called for Paving on Phase I of Trans Labrador Highway.

The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador issued two tender calls for the paving of 160 kilometres of Phase I of the Trans Labrador Highway (TLH) February 23. “These two tenders for 80 kilometres of paving each marks another step forward in our commitment to the hard-surfacing of Phase I,” said the Honourable Tom Hedderson, minister of Transportation and Works. “We hope to get these contracts in place by the end of March, so crews can begin work as soon as possible in the spring and make the most of the upcoming paving season.” 

The first of the two sections begins 92 kilometres west of Happy Valley-Goose Bay and continues 80 kilometres west toward Churchill Falls. The second section is an 80-kilometre stretch of highway from near the Ranger Lake highway depot toward Churchill Falls. “A key focus of the Northern Strategic Plan is improved transportation infrastructure within Labrador, and one objective is the completion of hard-surfacing of Phase I of the Trans Labrador Highway,” said John Hickey, minister of Labrador Affairs. “With the calling of tenders for an additional 160 kilometres of paving, we are coming ever closer to achieving that goal.” To date, the provincial government has invested more than $93 million in the widening and hard-surfacing of Phase I of the TLH. “This is great news for anyone travelling the section of highway between Labrador West and the Lake Melville region,” said Jim Baker, MHA for Labrador West. “Our government is continuing to follow through on its commitment to hard-surface this section of highway and it is providing tangible benefits to people and businesses throughout Labrador.” The hard-surfacing of Phase I of the highway is scheduled to be completed by 2014.


Pothole Alert - A Game The Whole Family Can Play

Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal is asking for the public’s help in identifying and dealing with the spring problem that plagues roads everywhere - potholes. “Given our climate and geology, potholes are a fact of life in the Maritimes every spring,” said Bill Estabrooks, Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal. “We can’t stop them but we have very high standards in how we deal with them.” In addition to driving with extra caution motorists can help by pointing the finger at problem potholes. A toll-free number, 1-888-432-3233, will direct callers to the nearest Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal base.

“Our staff make regular road checks but we’re responsible for 23,000 kilometres of roads so we may not see everything,” said Estabrooks. “The public can help and we would appreciate it.” Potholes appear on roads as the constant freeze and thaw cycles of the spring loosen the asphalt. During colder weather potholes are repaired with a temporary patch called cold mix. In the summer months, regular hot mix asphalt is used. Hot mix provides a more permanent repair but it is not generally available from suppliers until after the May long weekend. Department standards for 100 series and trunk roads are that potholes deeper than 100 mm (4 inches) are marked with a sign as soon as staff becomes aware of them and repaired within seven days. For roads with lower traffic volumes potholes must be signed within 24 hours and repaired within 21 days. Potholes which pose a significant and immediate danger are repaired as soon as department staff become aware of them.


Spring weight restrictions implemented

In an effort to reduce damage to the province’s roads over the coming weeks, the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal began implementing spring weight restrictions March 7. These restrictions reduce the maximum load allowed per axle for larger trucks, which helps preserve the provincial investment in the Island’s highways during a vulnerable period. Overweight permits will not be issued by the Department during spring weight restrictions and tolerances will no longer be valid on all weather highways. Last year the restrictions were in place until April 8. Other road users are advised that mild weather can present a whole new set of driving challenges. Therefore, drivers are asked to pay attention and drive safely as frost heaves and pot holes will be present over the next few weeks. For more information please visit and look for the weight restrictions link.   

Much, much more in the print addition of Auto Atlantic.
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