GRAND FALLS-WINDSOR, N.L. – The town council in Grand Falls-Windsor is looking to give the stretch of the Trans-Canada Highway (TCH) that runs through the community a facelift, though whose money will be used for such a project is uncertain.
“The money for the study should be a provincial cost, or a federal government cost even,” said Deputy Mayor Mike Browne.
An evaluation committee comprised of town manager Jeff Saunders, director of Engineering and Works Nelson Chatman, Browne and Councillor Darren Finn reviewed two submissions in response to a request for proposal (RFP) that would allow a study to be conducted on the length of TCH that intersects the town of Grand Falls Windsor.
This study, which would cost roughly $34,000, would outline what the town could do to improve the corridor. A meeting between town officials and the minister of Transportation and Works is expected to take place in the coming weeks, at which time Browne hopes to make the case that it is a provincial corridor, and should be funded with provincial money.
“I’m firm on that,” he said.
Browne also expects the results of the potential study, if enacted upon, to be a costly venture to complete.
“The corridor needs to be beautified,” said Browne. “Included in that would be the planting of trees.”
The median that divides the TCH through Grand Falls-Windsor has always been a point of debate. Browne said the town is happy with the median and the safety features it provides, though he noted it has handcuffed the town in attracting business along the highway. He added that the town is not currently entertaining the idea of removing it.
“Not at this time,” he said. “We’ll do the study first. We have no intentions of removing the median, absolutely not.”
Browne suggests better signage along the corridor to be a good first step, which would make it easier for drivers to find their destinations. No upgrades or renovations will take place until funding is ironed out and the study is complete.
“In all fairness, if the provincial government or federal government agencies that would normally fund projects such as this decline, well then we’d have to sit down as a council and decide whether that money should come out of municipal tax dollars,” he said. “But right now I totally disagree that that should happen. There’s no way that we should have to pay to enhance a provincial corridor going through Grand Falls-Windsor.”
Mayor Barry Manuel said the study was important for the future of the community at a meeting of council on May 29.
“It’ll be money well spent at the end of the day,” he said.
Finn said at the same meeting that he thinks there’s more council can do, adding that it’s important for Grand Falls-Windsor to seize the opportunity of being a community along the TCH.