Honourable Lloyd Matthews
Minister of Works, Services and Transportation
Mr. Speaker, as many of my Honourable Colleagues are aware, in 1988 the Peckford administration of the day signed the Roads for Rails Agreement with the federal government, which was worth 800 million dollars.
Mr. Speaker, at that time, a total of seventeen different projects were approved to provide safe, efficient transportation infrastructure throughout the province. One of the those approved projects was the Outer Ring Road, a modern thoroughfare that extends around the back of the capital city. It begins as a divided highway on the Trans Canada Highway near Pitts Memorial Drive and will continue through areas such as Thorburn Road, Pippy Park, Portugal Cove Road, and tie into White Hills Industrial Park.
Mr. Speaker, this morning, the Premier and I had the opportunity to roll out the announcement of this project, officially opening the first completed section of the Outer Ring Road and allowing public access for the first time. We were joined by Mr. Gerry Berigan, Regional Director General for Transport Canada, on behalf of Transport Minister David Collenette.
Mr. Speaker, this road is a significant part of the region's infrastructure and one that represents the new growth that is taking place in our province. It has numerous benefits. It will improve traffic flow in the capital city as well as have a positive impact on traffic in nearby surrounding communities. It will divert a great deal of the daily traffic from Kenmount Road which means less vehicles travelling on one of the major traffic arteries in the capital city.
It will be of tremendous benefit to motorists in Mount Pearl, Paradise and Torbay who want to access other communities without having to travel through some of the other heavier traffic areas within St. John's.
Industrial traffic in and out of areas such as Donovans, O'Leary Avenue, and White Hills, as well as the airport's industrial area will have better access. This in turn will divert a good number of transport trucks, heavy equipment and dump trucks from residential streets and high traffic areas.
The provincial and federal governments have spent $35 million on completion of the first section of this road, the majority of it going to local construction firms and local companies supplying products and services. There will be a total expenditure of $68.2 million once the bifurcation road is completed linking the Outer Ring Road to Kenmount Road.
We have now begun construction on the Goulds By-Pass Road. In the longer term, we will be focusing on the bifurcation road and then the East-West Arterial at some point in the future once funding has been identified. This will be the final phase of the St. John's Urban Regional Plan.
To date, there have been 12km paved, another 7 km are remaining, with an additional 2.5 km to be done on the bifurcation road, which is a total of 21.5 km.
This morning, I outlined a great deal of the environmental precautions taken in conjunction with this project and I think it is important to briefly share that with Members of the House.
Mr. Speaker, car wrecks have been removed from the area and recycled. Topsoil has been recovered from construction phases to date and is being used to landscape disturbed areas adjacent to the road.
In conjunction with the Memorial University Botanical Gardens, 28,000 tons of organic material and other soils were used to rehabilitate Sheppard's Pit which is an abandoned borrow pit near Oxen Pond.
Mr. Speaker, the MUN Botanical Gardens is using the site as part of a research project to examine the potential use of selective native plants along road right-of-ways in conjunction with present hydro seeding practices of this department.
Approximately 23,000 tons of organic soils were utilized to expand the overflow area in the Pippy Park Trailer Park and to construct a planting berm along Allandale Road. The berm was hydro seeded and planted with tree seedlings by the Junior Forest Rangers and local scouts.
Trees and shrubs recovered from the road construction zones have been used by the Grand Concourse Authority for landscaping around newly constructed trails within the City of St. John's and by Booth Memorial High School for a school landscaping project.
Various trees, shrubs and other plant material obtained from road construction areas were placed in a local tree nursery for one winter and then replanted along some recreated stream sections along the Outer Ring Road.
And finally, Green teams from the Newfoundland and Labrador Conservation Corps. were hired to carry out projects dealing with stream enhancement and fish habitat improvement of a number of brooks crossed by the Outer Ring Road.
Mr. Speaker, as we continue completion of the remaining projects identified as part of this agreement, similar measures continue to be taken to ensure that the environment is protected, and where possible, enhanced.
Mr. Speaker, my department has received a great deal of positive feedback on the road.
I encourage my Honourable Colleagues to get out and drive the Outer Ring Road themselves. I am confident that once they experience first-hand how modern and efficient the Outer Ring Road is, the majority of them will be extremely pleased.