Rocky road: Some Alma, N.B. business owners worried detour will hurt tourism

Mother's Day weekend is the unofficial opening for tourist season in Alma, N.B., but business owners and area residents are worried the tourists won't be happy when they arrive.

A detour leading into Alma has been in place since a heavy rainstorm washed out parts of Route 114 in February.

The detour leads motorists to a side road and then to Route 915 which is riddled with potholes.

300,000 people visit Fundy National Park on average each year and one village business owner is worried about how they'll get there.

"We’re gonna have RVs and motor homes and motorcycles, and people that are bringing in ATVs to go on the back roads," says Jane West Chrysotom, the owner of Cleveland Place. "It’s a safety issue. It’s a reputation issue. Getting here is going to be a challenge."

Wayne Gaskin owns a hotel near Hopewell Rocks, another tourist destination in the area. He says he thinks the condition of the road will have a direct impact on his business.

"If people hear by word of mouth Route 114 is not safe to drive on, they’ll avoid the area. They’re going to bypass, they'll go through Nova Scotia and we’ll be the drive through province," says Gaskin.

In addition to the washout near Hopewell Rocks, a small stretch of highway near the community of Shepody, N.B., has been washed out for months and reduced to one lane.

In a statement to CTV News, Albert MLA Mike Holland said he's received regular briefings, and his office is working on plans to deal with poor road conditions.

"Myself and my staff receive regular briefings related to road issues throughout the entire Albert riding, including the 114. We are working with DTI to identify and put plans in place to triage and mitigate poor road conditions," said Holland in the statement.

"This time of year is difficult to do paving repairs that will last, however; we have always been committed to seeing every available resource dedicated to improvements and repairs to such an important tourism roadway. Since 2018, I have said that we must not slowdown in seeing infrastructure investments in the Albert riding road network."

"We haven’t seen anybody. We haven’t seen trucks. We haven’t heard reports. We haven’t heard from our community leaders or our MLA so that’s a frustration. We’re all preparing for people to come enjoy this area," says Chrysotom.

In an email to CTV News, Department of Transportation and Infrastructure spokesperson Mark Taylor said the department has made emergency and minor repairs to some areas affected by flooding, but more extensive work will only start once tenders have been awarded.

"Contractors are expected to be secured in the next few weeks with work starting shortly after," said Taylor.