L’Anse au Loup Mayor Hedley Ryland said the work they’re getting on Route 510 was badly needed.
In a letter he received from the provincial government on July 27, Ryland said there was a commitment to level 11 kilometres of road this year, as well as pulverization and re-paving of the entire highway from the Quebec-Labrador border to Red Bay, starting in the next construction season.
The levelling, which entails putting a layer of new pavement over what is already there, commenced in the Labrador Straits in late July and is ongoing.
“I’m very appreciative because government did realize the importance of it,” Ryland said. “It was a safety issue, and if this didn’t get done this summer, there’s no doubt about it – it would have been an accident waiting to happen and some life would have been lost.”
Ryland estimated about nine kilometres have been completed thus far, including perhaps the three worst sections of the highway – the turn around The Battery before Capstan Island; Crow Head, near the Forteau dump; and the section in front of the Ultramar in Forteau.
Ryland said it looks like there will be an additional four kilometres levelled between Forteau and L’Anse au Clair, and on top of L’Anse au Clair hill. This means they region will end up with a total of about 13 km levelled at the end of this year.
“We exceeded 11 km, so that makes me a little bit happy too,” he said.
The work is taking place after protests erupted in the Labrador Straits in July as residents became increasingly frustrated with the dilapidated condition of Route 510.
The protesters blocked commercial traffic one day from entering Labrador at the Quebec-Labrador border.
Ryland partook in the protests and called on the province to level more than the 11 km to which had been committed. He and the other protesters also wanted to see the highway pulverized and re-paved from the Quebec-Labrador border to Red Bay the following year.
According to him, that’s life for the people of Labrador.
“We not only got to fight for things for Labrador, it’s a point now where we got to fight to keep what we got,” he said.
Ryland also warned the province protesters will be back on the road again if the work they’ve committed to doesn’t take place next year.
“If you don’t keep your word, we’ll be back, bigger and stronger next construction season, if the (pulverizing and paving) isn’t started from the Quebec border to Red Bay,” he said.