Drivers making their way between Fredericton and Moncton will continue to experience a detour into the winter season, after a construction project has been extended.
MRDC Operations Corporation is the company responsible for the highway between the two cities.
Manager Norman Clouston said once the project had started, the company noticed a problem with a culvert installed in 2000.
That meant they would have to add the task of replacing the retaining wall to the job, which would push the project’s completion back a few weeks.
The 1.2-kilometre stretch of highway detours westbound vehicles over to the eastbound side, creating two-way traffic and reducing the speed limit from 110 km/h to 90 km/h.
Originally, the project was expected to be completed over the course of several weeks, wrapping up Nov. 1.
Now that the additional repairs are needed, MRDC expects the project to extend into December and estimates a new completion date of just before Christmas.
In a statement, Department of Transportation and Infrastructure (DTI) Communications Director Tanya Greer said: “They have provided DTI with a plan for winter maintenance and emergency response on these projects, and we are currently reviewing it. We are confident in their commitment to public safety.”
Opposition MLA Bill Oliver says there’s always a worry when road conditions aren’t optimal, especially in the winter months, but he’s confident in the organization’s commitment to safety.
“We’re certainly concerned and anytime the travelling public is affected by it, we want to make sure that proper corrections are made,” said Oliver. “MRDC is working at it, they’ve put up signage, they’ve slowed the traffic down and it’s one of those issues where it’s a large pipe and so we just can’t do it overnight.”
MRDC indicated they don’t anticipate any substantial issues with the detour when the snow hits.
Clouston said the fact that the plows push snow off the road to the right means the centre line pylons won’t be affected and they plan to step up their twice-a-day patrols of the area in the event of a storm.
Oliver says he’s sure MRDC is doing their due diligence on the project but is concerned that similar situations could be found when further roadwork is done in the future.
“There’s certainly concern there whether or not the aggregate that was used was used in other places,” he explained. “We want to check and see if there are other issues along the highway.”