Roadwork starts on Route 114 near Fundy National Park, but residents skeptical

Crews have started fixing up the pocked roadway that tourists travel to reach some of New Brunswick’s most iconic vistas.

But the promise of a renewed Route 114 is raising some eyebrows among residents and business owners along Route 114 in southeastern New Brunswick.

“Hopeful” and “doubtful” sum up the contrasting feelings on the road leading to Fundy National Park.

“It’s got to last more than one or two years,” said Jimmy Vande Brand, who builds and rents cottages for tourists.

Resurfacing almost 19 kilometres

An 18.7-kilometre stretch of the road is being repaired, with seven kilometres getting resurfaced with asphalt and the remainder with chip seal.  

Vande Brand is skeptical that the planned repair will be a lasting one. He believes the work is likely an attempt to buy votes in the federal election this year. 

“But we’ll see,” said Vande Brand. 

Many residents and business owners are used to the road being ‘patched’ and worry $4 million won’t be enough to do the job right. (Shane Fowler/CBC)

Earlier this year, Bill Oliver, the provincial minister of transportation and infrastructure, called Route 114 “unfortunate” and “embarrassing.” At the time, he said the province had no money to fix the road, which is mostly used by tourists heading in and out of the park during the summer.

Then a July announcement of $4 million from both the federal and provincial governments promised to make the road a  more pleasant, less vehicle-damaging drive. 

Some residents say $4 million won’t be enough.

“Nope, it’s going to need more elbow grease than that,” said Bella McGouey, who believes the road needs to be torn up and completely “redone.” 

“It needs to be done because there’s so many trucks hauling on this road nowadays,” said McGouey, referring to logging trucks. “It’s hardly safe to be on it.”  

While some suspect the roadwork won’t last long, others are thankful for the patchwork improvements that have already taken place.  

Bella McGoey suspects the plan to resurface part of one stretch with asphalt and the rest with chip seal really means just more patchwork. (Shane Fowler/CBC)

“Tremendous,” said Liz Guptill, who runs a brass, glass and everything else antique shop along Route 114. “There were great big huge craters, potholes, dips, dives.” 

Guptill said the majority of her business comes from U.S. tourists, particularly from New York and Rhode Island. But the road had deteriorated so much that tourists were turning around. 

“People would turn in this guy’s driveway,” said Guptill. “They’d just say, ‘Nope, we’re not going further.’ It’s a disgrace.” 

“People put a lot of money into their campers and their vehicles and to get them beat to pieces, it’s not cool.

Guptill said she used to hear large RVs making bone-crunching noises as they went over the holes in the road. 

“Crash and bang, and I’d just say, ‘That poor guy, that poor guy,” said Guptill. 

Liz Guptill says the majority of customers who come to her antique shop are tourists from the United States, and some have turned around because of the road conditions. (Shane Fowler/CBC)

Parks Canada is also looking forward to improvements.  

“Parks Canada is pleased to hear that the federal and provincial governments will invest in the Highway 114 to improve the road conditions,” said spokesperson Julie Ouellette. 

Fundy Royal MP Alaina Lockhart, who announced the roadwork funding, posted a video Thursday of a ride with federal Infrastructure Minister François-Philippe Champagne on Route 114. 

Parks Canada says it’s ‘pleased’ with the decision to repair Route 114. (Shane Fowler/CBC)

In the video Lockhart says flood mitigation as a result of climate change will be factored into culvert replacements and resurfacing.  

“The shoulders aren’t very wide at all,” Lockhart said. “So when you have people that are travelling with RVs and that sort of thing, the traffic is moving fairly slow and there’s nowhere to go.

“So people really see that as a safety hazard.”