Ensuring safety biggest challenge for company taking on nighttime highway paving project

Government testing asphalt formulas on TCH between Holyrood and Witless Bay

The contractor that will handle a nighttime paving project for a section of the province's highway says the work will be a challenge, but his company is up to the task.

This week, the Department of Transportation and Works announced the $2.5 million pilot project, which will test the viability of night paving on the TCH between Kenmount Road in St. John's and Salmonier Line.

Carboner's Concord Paving was awarded the tender for the work, and co-owner Kevin Keating said while his company has a little bit of experience working at night — such as when daylight hours get shorter at the end of the season — this will be new territory for them.

"We may have done a parking lot or a street when you get caught in the dark, but it's kind of a different thing because you're just in one location and this is more of a moving operation," he told the St. John's Morning Show.

Challenges

Keating describes the summer project as a "mill and fill" operation, which will take place on various sections of a 50-km stretch of the divided highway just west of St. John's.

He said he's seen nighttime highway work take place in parts of mainland Canada and the United States, but as far as he knows such work hasn't been done on Newfoundland and Labrador's highways.

Besides the fact that night paving will cost more — due to the slow nature of it and the need to install lighting — he said the biggest challenge will be ensuring the safety of both the travelling public and his staff.

"It's [a] hard enough problem trying to slow traffic down in the daytime, let alone at night," he said, adding that at night driver fatigue is also a concern.

"It's harder to drive at night, you have to have more concentration on the road than when you're out in the daytime."

To be completed by July

Keating said the next step is to have their lighting plan approved by an engineer. Then they will run a public awareness campaign to let people know the work — which is expected to be completed in July — will be taking place.

Keating said Concord is looking forward to getting to work to see if nighttime paving is something that could be used in the future for Newfoundland and Labrador's highway work.

"It's something that government has been kicking around for years, and they finally decided to call a contract and see what happens," he said.

"Once we complete this project it will allow government the opportunity to do a cost analysis, and also [consider] the pros and cons of daytime paving versus nighttime in relation to cost, safety and the movement of traffic."