N.B. residents call for permanent fix after flooding closed Trans-Canada Highway

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CTV Atlantic

Published Thursday, May 2, 2019 10:29PM ADT

Last Updated Thursday, May 2, 2019 10:31PM ADT

The Trans-Canada Highway between Moncton and Fredericton has re-opened after being closed for a week by spring flooding.

It’s welcome news for the people driving the 10,000-12,000 vehicles that use the road every day, but some of them are calling for a permanent fix.

For Allan Giberson, the last week has been stressful. He’s the general manager for the company that looks after the Trans-Canada between Moncton and Fredericton.

He knows it’s a big deal to have to close the stretch that connects one end of the province, to the other.

“I guess I’d like to see the St. John River not flood,” Giberson said. “One in 100-year events happened (two years) in a row.

The last two years, water has risen high enough to cover several portions of the west- and east-bound lanes and waves threw debris all over the pavement.

Emergency measures, the province and MRDC, the company that looks after the highway, made the decision last week, to close the route for driver’s safety.

People, understand, but it is an inconvenience.

“It could be significant for some companies especially if they have, you know, 20 plus loads a day, some of them would see some significant changes in extra fuel costs land on their bottom line,” said Jean-Marc Picard of Atlantic Provinces Trucking Association.

It’s happened two years back-to-back and now officials are asking — what could be done to prevent the closure in the future?

“(The) highway would have to be raised by two or three feet for a section of probably four kilometres or something like that,” said New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs.

The premier, an engineer by trade, says projects like that could be partially funded by Ottawa.

“We have a list of all of the highways that have gone underwater,” Higgs said. “So I think part of this strategy is going to be picking the ones that have the highest, let’s say risk or impact – which that one would have — and say, ‘what’s it going to cost to bring that one up to a stable area so it won’t have this again?’”

Picard thinks the province needs to sit down and look at their options to make modifications or change the road.

“It is a main artery, not just for New Brunswick or Atlantic Canada, but for the flow of goods right up to central Canada,” he said.

Giberson says there’s a little bit of damage – specifically on the west-bound lane.

He says they’re making sure it’s completely safe before opening up all lanes.

As for possible changes to the highway, Giberson says: “if alternate solutions need to take place, those discussions will take place, a concept will be developed, whether or not it’s feasible will be determined from there.”

In Gagetown, the river peaked about one foot below last year’s record. 

“This was the second biggest flood in history, so it was a big flood, and it’s going to take some time to clean up,” said innkeeper Bruce Langhus.

There are signs of recovery all along the river, including ferries gradually getting back to business — and people in the tourism business are anxious to do the same.

“With a seasonal business you have a very short window and when Mother Nature takes part of that window and smashes it out, it makes you scramble and do all sorts of different things,” Langhus said.

Mother’s Day and the long weekend in May are big moments in the tourism industry.   They are often kick-offs for the season, and for the second year in a row, many people in the tourism industry in the St. John River Valley are unsure whether they will be open in time.

With files from CTV Atlantic’s Laura Brown and Mike Cameron.

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