Fredericton — The New Brunswick Department of Transportation and Infrastructure is working to answer Premier Brian Gallant’s call for cost-saving measures to save the province $250 million. After several days in meetings comprised of roundtable discussions with stakeholders, the department believes it has come up with a solution to the lack of funding for roadwork in the 2015 season.
The program is being called “Action Resource Sharing Endeavour” or A.R.S.E., and essentially it means allowing one area of New Brunswick to enjoy smooth, pothole-free roads for a few years, then switching it up to another area that may have had poorly maintained and patched roads.
In an email sent to The Manatee, Minister Roger Melanson explains: “Resource sharing is certainly not a new idea; however, in a typical scenario it refers to computer networks or trading resources. What we plan do to is actually use our resources in one area then after a period of time relocate those resources to another area for a term. It’s innovative and certainly thinking outside the box — in fact, we have begun a pilot project on Route 640 in Hanwell to gauge the success of this program.”
And yes, residents and commuters were surprised and appalled on Tuesday morning to see that a 4.4-kilometre section of roadway stretching between the Irving on Hanwell and stopping just before Sholtens was being milled to remove the asphalt.
Hanwell Mayor Susan Cassidy is just as taken aback as her constituents. “My telephone has not stopped ringing!” she exclaimed. “People are angry — they don’t understand why the road is being torn up as there was nothing wrong with it in the first place. Few details have been released.
“I am being told that since this area has enjoyed the use of a well-maintained and problem-free highway for several years now, this program is designed to literally remove the pavement, then mill the asphalt so that it can be reused in hot mix pavement,” she went on. “This recycled asphalt will then be transported to a different area and used to pave a different section of roadway in order to allow those residents the benefit of a good road for a few years, then the cycle will begin again. I don’t understand how this is possibly going to work in the long term.”
After further inquiry to the department, Melanson sent another email containing the following statement: “We can’t be everything to everyone. Asphalt prices have increased and the province is broke. There are roads in communities that haven’t been properly repaired in 20-plus years, and that’s unfair. This program allows everyone to have the benefit from their tax dollars, even if it is for a short time. The reassurance is there that everyone will get their turn — what goes around comes around.”
Will such a radical concept succeed? One thing is clear: Hanwell residents say this program was rushed and are wishing the government had spent more time sitting on A.R.S.E. until further study and consultation could take place.