Rothesay — Department of Transportation Minister Roger Melanson announced today a plan to relocate a recently built extension to an on-ramp near Rothesay on Highway 1 due to lack of use by residents.
“The province spent millions of dollars extending it to reduce morning congestion, and people just aren’t using it,” the minister said at a press conference in Fredericton. “Motorists are continuing to just stop at the bottom and wait for an opening, instead of using the lane to get up to highway speed and safely merge in as they are supposed to. It’s causing major traffic issues in the morning commute. Due to failed attempts to educate drivers on proper usage, we decided that since it wasn’t being appreciated in Rothesay, maybe another community might be able to put it to use.”
The department is asking any municipality interested to submit their bids by the end of February. Melanson can’t put an exact dollar value on the pavement, but pointed out that a kilometre of highway usually costs around a million dollars. “We hope to get a few hundred thousand for it. Especially considering how little it’s been used,” he said.
When asked about the logistics of moving almost half a kilometre of pavement, Melanson stated the interested communities would have to arrange for pickup. “We’ll be happy to cut it to whatever size they like, but they will have to take it away,” he explained.
When asked to comment, Rothesay Mayor Bill Bishop didn’t seem too concerned about the removal. “It just goes to show yet again, that Rothesay does not like change. I don’t know why I have to keep saying this,” he said.
In nearby Quispamsis, Mayor Murray Driscoll admitted it would make sense for the town to take the asphalt, being the closest community, but wasn’t sure the it was needed. “Unlike drivers in Rothesay, our citizens seem to know how to use the merge lanes properly. But considering how expensive paving is, we might find somewhere to put it.”
Saint John Mayor Mel Norton said the city might be interested, but only if they could get the pavement pre-cut into a variety of shapes. “With the spring pothole season just around the corner, this could be a cheap way to fill them. We don’t need any new roads — we already have too many. In fact, I’ve asked city staff to investigate whether we might be able to get rid of some of our roads this way.”
If no communities step forward to take the asphalt, Melanson stated they would probably then advertize it on Kijiji. “It would make a wonderful backyard patio or basketball court,” he said.