On the windiest road in Quebec

Sometimes cemented, sometimes gravel, Route 389 that connects Baie-Comeau and Fermont on the North Shore is one of the most winding in Quebec, full of contrasts in its beauty and dangers.

• Also read: Renovation of Road 389 is progressing in Baie-Comeau

Driving for the first time in this artery that strikes the Daniel-Johnson dam, then discovering to us the magnificent Monts Groulx, begins an adventure.

In some places, it is straight and very smooth.

“The landscapes are amazing. But if we look at the bad side of the coin, the safety side, we are 20 years back, ”exclaims trucker Patrice Lapointe.

The provincial road is sometimes like a forest road.

Two important sections with a total of 169 kilometers are unpaved. They represent about a third of the 570 -kilometer long route. Many slopes and curves do not comply with the standards of the Ministère des Transports.

“We call it snake because there are a lot of curves, a lot of bumps, road damage”, defining a motorist, Roger Robert.

When the road surface is dry, passing vehicles can easily reduce visibility.

When it rains, the road breaks down so fast that graders have to keep coming in to fix it.

“The Melt and the Fall. Autumn, in the rainy season, it takes two months, it’s hell. When it gets wet, it sinks, it’s hard to stay on the road, ”explained Fermont tugboat Richard Boucher.

The situation is particularly difficult in approaching Fermont when the road crosses the ArcelorMittal mine area where vehicles, mining vehicles and trains collide.

You must cross at least 11 level crossings at a distance of approximately 52 kilometers.

The 67-kilometer journey between Fermont and FireLake takes about an hour during normal hours, but can easily be tripled when conditions are difficult.

“Oh yes,‘ rough ’on the body. Dams back, I’m holding on a lot, at this point. The trucks, the heavy trucks, when I last climbed, the road was so chaotic that men were driving at ten kilometers per hour, ”said courier Claude Couturier.

Route 389 is not particularly deadly, but paramedic response times are standard hours. A barracks are next to the road.

“If there is an accident at kilometer 300 and here, we are not there, we are discovered, a worker is missing and the ambulance is closed, Baie-Comeau has to go up. Baie-Comeau, it will take them an average of three hours. What’s worse after that, it’s to overthrow him, ”paramedic Luc-David Harvey summarized.

Also, asking for help is not easy. Sure there are 12 emergency phones on the side of the road, but cellular waves are completely absent.

Telecommunications and response times will always be a challenge on this route, but significant improvements are currently being made thanks to investments of $ 525 million. Two major projects are underway. One in progress north of Baie-Comeau, to be completed by the end of the year, and one south of Fermont. In this case, a new 43-kilometer route will be completed over the next four years.

However, this project does not include any paving.

“Hoping that within the next four years, they will announce that it will be asphaled because for the moment, they are repairing the road, but it is still gravel”, observes the mayor of Fermont, Martin Saint -Laurent.

He hopes to cement all of Route 389, not only for safety and convenience, but also on the question of economic development in an emerging region.

“With the royalties and the GDP that can be represented by the two mining companies I have in my region, I think there is a way to find money to come and reinvest in our region,” he explains.

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