Osborne, McGrath spar over roadwork promises

James McLeod
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Liberal MHA Tom Osborne says that the government is over-promising when it comes to planned paving projects, and the proof is in the government's public tenders.

Nick McGrath

All week, Osborne has been attacking the Tories for announcing big roadwork projects, saying that the details reveal that most of the paving won't get done this year, and may not be done at all.

Earlier in the week it was the Bay d'Espoir highway that Osborne was talking about. Thursday it was the road to Fleur de Lys.

"They promised 12 kilometres this year. They're only paying for four kilometres," Osborne said. "It doesn't add up."

Transportation Minister Nick McGrath said that Osborne is getting bent out of shape about something that's actually improving the system.

Starting this year, government has been tendering roadwork contracts earlier, and bundling big sections of road together into multi-year contracts.

That way, he said, contractors can have a reliable sense of the work happening from year to year.

"They know ahead of time that they have the work which gives them an opportunity to retain the employees they have," McGrath told reporters.

"It's good for the contractor, it's good for the government, and most importantly, it's good for the people of Newfoundland and Labrador."

McGrath said the tender for the Fleur de Lys contract Osborne is worked up about specifies that in the first year, the government will only pay a maximum of $2.25 million in the first year.

If the contractor does more than $2.25 million worth of work in the first year, McGrath said, they'll get paid in the 2015 fiscal year for the extra work they did.

The announcement of new roadwork in Fleur de Lys this spring comes after residents in the area blocked the road and staged a protest because of the poor conditions of the pavement.

Premier Tom Marshall and McGrath were in the area to make the big announcement back in mid-March.

But Osborne said he's been talking to contractors who say that $2.25 million is only enough to cover about four kilometres of roadwork, and the bottom line is that if the government isn't going to pay the contracting companies, the work just won't get done.

"The contractor is not going to do 100 per cent of the work this year, but only get 30 per cent of the pay and then wait until next year to get 70 per cent of the pay," he said.


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