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Minister preaches patience as government replaces culvert, closes TCH near Avondale

Work to replace culverts on the Trans-Canada Highway near the Avondale exit will force motorists to access detours beginning Friday, Sept. 13, at 6:30 p.m.
Work to replace culverts on the Trans-Canada Highway near the Avondale exit will force motorists to access detours beginning Friday, Sept. 13, at 6:30 p.m. - Andrew Robinson
AVONDALE, N.L. —

The minister of transportation and works is preaching patience in advance of a planned closure of the Trans-Canada Highway near Avondale as government prepares to replace culverts.

Right now, traffic is reduced to one lane eastbound and westbound on the highway at Exit 34, which accesses Route 63 leading to Avondale and neighbouring communities along the Conception Bay Highway. This Friday, Sept. 13, at 6:30 p.m., highway access will be cut off at this point. Eastbound traffic will turn off at the Avondale exit, while westbound traffic may want to take Peacekeepers Way through Conception Bay South to connect with the Conception Bay Highway or take the Salmonier Line exit. Westbound traffic would be able to regain access to the Trans-Canada Highway by taking Route 63.

It's expected this detour will continue until Tuesday morning, at which point access will go back to one lane each eastbound and westbound.

Transportation and Works Minister Steve Crocker speaks with reporters near the exit to Avondale on the Trans-Canada Highway.
Transportation and Works Minister Steve Crocker speaks with reporters near the exit to Avondale on the Trans-Canada Highway.

According to Transportation and Works Minister Steve Crocker, the new culverts will replace infrastructure that's approximately 30 years old. Working beginning this weekend will only involve replacing one of the pipes. The replacement pipes have a polymer coating on the bottom that will prevent rusting and give them a longer lifespan, Crocker said.

"Late last winter, early this spring, we noticed deterioration in the existing pipes, so then we immediately started to take action to do this job this season," the minister said, indicating the importance of completing the work now to avoid a potential infrastructure failure down the road.

Work will continue non-stop, 24 hours a days, to finish the job by next Tuesday, according to the minister.

Crocker said he's cognizant of the fact the closure will represent a significant inconvenience for weekend drivers.

"We know there's going to be traffic challenges on the weekend," he said. "In ideal situations, it's about a 20-minute detour. We realize that it won't be a 20-minute detour. There will be traffic issues this weekend. Unfortunately, this is the most efficient and effective way for us to actually replace this massive pipe."

Each pipe will be moved in three sections at a weight of approximately 50 tonnes. The pipes are 270 feet long and 14 feet in diameter. They will be buried 26 feet below the surface.

This work was originally scheduled to begin last weekend, but in light of the inclement weather forecast as a result of post-tropical storm Dorian, government decided to postpone the work.

"We feel we made the right decision last week," Crocker said. "We're fortunate enough on the east coast not to suffer a lot of Hurricane Dorian, but the reality is we did have some really high winds on Sunday, and we want to make sure for everybody's safety that we didn't take that chance. We have no regrets in postponing it."

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