Tourists, locals decry 'atrocious' condition of highway to provincial park

Tourists and locals alike are decrying the condition of a scenic coastal highway that's used to access a provincial park.

Route 955, which skirts the Northumberland Strait, passing by the Confederation Bridge and Murray Beach Provincial Park, has been crumbling for years, said Stephen Robb, who owns Luella's Country Market in Little Shemogue.

He said the road is so bad that last summer every customer who came into his store commented on its condition.

"It's just ludicrous that the provincial government has let this road get to this condition," said Robb.

"It is part of the Acadian coastal route, in fact it's the first part of it."

Jason Hoyt, a spokesperson with the province's Department of Tourism, told CBC News the government has committed close to $140,000 this year for work along Route 955 to replace a culvert, level asphalt in some sections and manage vegetation.

Multiple issues

Robb is a member of a group of local residents who are calling on the provincial government to fix the highway.

While most highway lanes are 10 feet wide, there are areas of the road where lanes are only seven feet wide because of deterioration, he said. The shoulders of the road dip in some places, and in others the vegetation on the shoulder is so overgrown that you can't see cars or wildlife coming around corners.

Stephen Robb, who owns Luella's Country Market in Little Shemogue, is a member of a group of locals who are calling on the provincial government to fix the highway.
Stephen Robb, who owns Luella's Country Market in Little Shemogue, is a member of a group of locals who are calling on the provincial government to fix the highway. (Jonna Brewer/CBC)

The condition of the highway makes no sense considering how much money the province has put into making Murray Beach attractive to tourists, Robb said.

"I know there's been a lot of upgrades there."

He said he met with Tourism Minister Tammy Scott-Wallace and was told repairing the road would be a priority going forward. But at a later meeting with the Department of Transportation, Robb was told the road was not a priority.

Route 955 passes by Murray Beach Provincial Park, a popular tourist spot the province has spent money updating in recent years.
Route 955 passes by Murray Beach Provincial Park, a popular tourist spot the province has spent money updating in recent years. (Jonna Brewer/CBC)

He also claims the province set up traffic counters, used to determine how many cars travel on a road, in April when traffic would be lower, in order to avoid prioritizing the road.

CBC News has reached out to the departments of transportation and tourism for comment.

Highway is 'terrible' say campers

Campers staying at Murray Beach described their journey on the highway with words like "atrocious" or "treacherous."

"The roads are terrible," said John Fudge. "Everything in our trailer was all shook up and I was only going slow."

His travelling companion, Heather Dykeman, said she's travelled to a lot of provincial parks but never had an experience like this.

"This is the worst one," she said. "We were just shocked at the condition of the road to get in here."

Larry Carroll of Miramichi said the campground is nice, but the road can be a bit “scary” at times.
Larry Carroll of Miramichi says the campground is nice but the road can be a bit 'scary' at times. (Jonna Brewer/CBC)

Larry Carroll of Miramichi said the campground is nice but the road can be a bit "scary" at times.

"There was a section where there was probably a quarter of the road washed away," said Carroll.

Robb said the continuing deterioration of the road will eventually hurt the tourism sector in the area.

"I think [tourists] come, they look at this and they go, 'that's a really sad place. It's pretty, but it's sad and the government doesn't care about it,'" he said.