Mount Pearl Mayor Randy Simms is unapologetic about turning down a renewed call from St. John's to help pay for the upkeep of the Team Gushue Highway extension, but also says St. John's should not have to pay for it either.
Simms rejected St. John's Mayor Dennis O'Keefe's renewed calls this week that Mount Pearl should shoulder the burden of maintaining the extension, which is expected to be finished next year.
Simms said that's because the provincial government should never have been allowed to force any municipality to pay for maintenance on a highway that serves a region.
"We are not prepared to be engaged in what I consider nothing more than a provincial download of their responsibility onto local government so our answer remains no," Simms told CBC News.
"If the City of St. John's made the decision tomorrow that it wanted to go back to the province of Newfoundland and Labrador and say we want to revisit this, we think this is a provincial highway, we think that the province should therefore take responsibility for it and they wanted support from their neighbours for that position - Mayor O'Keefe, the members of St. John's city council and the taxpayers of St. John's can be assured that Mount Pearl would be in their corner," Simms said.
O'Keefe, who raised the issue again at this week's council meeting, said that St. John's agreed to operate the highway because it was the only way to secure $45 million in construction funding from the federal and provincial governments.
Simms agrees that the seven-kilometre extension, which will stretch from the Outer Ring Road to the Goulds bypass road, will benefit residents of Mount Pearl, but adds that it will also benefit other communities and the province as a whole.
Mount Pearl not willing to contribute to maintenance of Team Gushue Ext. - Quick solution: concrete barricades on all on and off ramps.— Jonathan Galgay (@JonathanGalgay) July 17, 2014
Simms' reaction did not impress St. John's Coun. Jonathan Galgay, who tweeted late Wednesday, "Quick solution: concrete barricades on all on and off ramps."
The provincial government said earlier this month that it will not be able to meet its orginal target of finishing the extension during this year, because of factors that included weather-based delays and waiting for environmental clearances. The work is expected to be completed by next year.