Crews spread out across Gros Morne to repair damage from severe January storm

The usual quiet of Gros Morne National Park is being broken this summer by the sound of construction crews.

Extensive damage caused by a severe flood in January includes bridges, roads, shelters and trails.

The Barters Brook bridge in Gros Morne took considerable damage after a severe flood devastated the area in January. (Parks Canada)

The usual quiet of Gros Morne National Park is being broken this summer by the sound of construction crews, as the federal government spends millions of dollars to clean up damaged caused by a severe flood in January.

Crews are hard at work repairing the most problematic areas, including bridges and busy roads, before tackling other parts of the western Newfoundland park.

"We determined what bridges were safe to use and what would need immediate repairs," said Carla Wheaton, the visitor experience manager for Gros Morne.

She added that assessments began immediately after heavy rains caused severe damage along Newfoundland's west coast. 

"The lesser priorities were the visitor facilities, like the kitchen shelter and the picnic tables which could wait a few months before they needed to be addressed," Wheaton told CBC's On The Go.

About $27.5 million is being invested into the reconstruction of areas of the park by the federal government. Most of the funding is being put towards replacing both Dick's Brook and Rocky Barachois bridges, with a small chunk going towards repairing the Trout River bridge.

Visitor safety a top priority

The announcement came Wednesday by Parks Canada, with public safety being a top priority.

"This federal funding will support emergency infrastructure repairs to roadways, bridges and visitor facilities following the significant flooding event that occurred in the park in January 2018," Parks Canada said in a news release.

"Visitor and public safety is a priority for Parks Canada and these repairs along highways 430 and 431 – both of which being key connectors for local communities and visitors to the park – are critical for these important transportation corridors," the statement said. 

The federal government is investing $27.5 million into repairs for areas of Gros Morne National Park after a severe flood damaged the area in January. (Parks Canada)

Wheaton is hopeful all repairs will be completed by the end of this season, but remains realistic because of the size of the project.

Some elements, such as work on a suspension bridge, "may take a little longer to complete and hopefully by the end of this season we will have most of the work completed," she said.

"So by the start of the 2019 season we will have all those facilities open for visitors to use."

Visitors to the area need not worry about their visit, she said, because there is still plenty to do in areas not under construction. 

The Stuckless Pond Trail will remain under construction this season due to the severity of the damage from January's flood. (Parks Canada)

"I think we're quite fortunate in that those generally are facilities that are not our primary offer within the park," she said.

"So we have lots and lots of other enjoyable areas for people to visit in the park. While Stuckless Pond trail may be out of commision for a few months, we've got still lots of other wonderful trails for people to explore and enjoy."     

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About the Author

Mike Moore

Journalist

Mike Moore is a journalist who works with the CBC Newfoundland and Labrador bureau in St. John's.

With files from On The Go