© Guardian photo
A section of the Trans-Canada highway west of Charlottetown, known now as "Plan B." Drivers are questioning why the new multimillion-dollar highway is so rocky.
Robert Vessey says contractor will be applying a seal coat to the surface at no cost to taxpayer
Driving on the realigned portion of the Trans-Canada Highway through Bonshaw is going to get smoother as the weather improves.
That's the word from Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal Minister Robert Vessey, who told the P.E.I. legislature on Tuesday that the contractor which worked on the so-called Plan B project will be applying a seal coat later this spring.
Vessey said any work that has to be done, beyond the seal coat, will be at the expense of the contractor.
"It was a hard winter. All roads in the province, even my own road in York, heaved,'' Vessey said in an interview following question period. "It was bad for frost. It went in quick and it went in hard and it pushed up the ground.''
Tracadie-Hillsborough Park MLA Buck Watts rose during question period on Tuesday, asking the minister for an explanation.
"I'm hearing (complaints) from a lot of people,'' Watts told The Guardian. "They're wondering why a brand new highway would be in that kind of condition (and) I was thinking the same thing myself.''
The new $16 million highway opened last fall. Steven Yeo, the province's chief engineer, said when construction is done late in the season there are often what he called "frost differentials'' or heaving.
Yeo said he expected it, pointing out that the worst sections were near New Haven and Bonshaw. Roads typically rise about three inches in the winter when they freeze.
Vessey said Tuesday that the moisture didn't have time to dry and settle.
"The sub-grade materials (gravel or shale) that went down (were exposed) to high moisture and when you get high moisture and the frost hits it freezes and it heaves. Once we put the seal coat down we don't expect any problems.''
Vessey said similar problems have plagued a lot of secondary roads, as well as the collectors and streets in Charlottetown.
Watts said the highway isn't nearly as bumpy now as it was.
"Just this past weekend I had an occasion to travel it again and it was much better. It will dry out. It's just a glitch that's going to be looked after.''
Seal coats provide a waterproof surface and prevent moisture from entering and weakening the roadbed. It is also supposed to reduce deterioration and cracking. Seal coats tend to last three to five years.