Rural roads in some parts of Nova Scotia are deteriorating to a state making it unsafe to travel. This isn’t anything new. There has been a history of neglecting road maintenance in areas like Cumberland County and Colchester County. Stories like a section of west Apple River Road near the western tip of Cumberland County, or the complaints for years to get the province to fix the 16-kilometre Lower Maccan Road are commonplace. Today, just on the western slope of the Economy Mountain, a washout on the side of the road presents a dangerous situation, and residents are tired of government promises to fix it. Glen and Jean Marsh have a farm about halfway down the mountain. She says:
CatCountry reported today that the provincial government announced funding for $127,500 in trails, playgrounds and other outdoor and indoor recreation projects in Truro, Tatamagouche, Brookfield and other local areas. The province said there is also an extra $122,500 for three other projects to be announced at a later date. While I’m sure this will endear the provincial Liberals who will partake in these activities… residents and tourists need to be able to arrive at their destinations safely. This needs to be a priority.
In 1978, Bruce Wood and Carla Cameron were travelling in a vehicle just outside of Parrsboro in Lakelands. Their car hit a pothole, crossed the yellow line into an oncoming half-ton. Carla would have been nineteen at the time with Bruce being a little older. They were just getting started with their lives together when it was tragically taken from them. The small communities up and down the shore mourned their loss, and many feel it was the fault of the Department of Transportation. Repeated requests to repair the road fell on deaf ears. It wasn’t until this faithful event that the hole was filled in shortly later. How many lives are going to be lost on the Economy Mountain before something is done?
Here is Jean Marsh’s story:
“Please take notice of these washouts on Economy Mountain as you drive by. I have asked the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal to repair them, after 15 months of them going untouched, because this is the place where we pull off the road with our farm equipment to allow traffic to pass us before we cross the bridge and turn onto Beaver Brook Road. My request has been refused.
Their idea of ‘fixing them’ was to put pylons along the area after 14 months of not having them marked at all. This is a safety concern for EVERYONE that travels along this road. If you veer off and hit the shoulder for any reason … your car won’t have a chance.
The supervisor’s excuse for his refusal: ‘Its rim work and is done by contract’. I don’t buy that — I can point out many areas, including washouts just a few metres from these, where DOT has done the repairs themselves! I’m pretty sure they have the equipment and know how to take care of emergency safety hazards. Just above this area, there were more washouts that also happened in April 2015 that they filled in with course rocks (no skim coat of gravel so they’re a tire hazard, but not a safety hazard like this is!). Why did they not do these at the same time? Did they run out of rock for the past 15 months???
I dropped into the Bible Hill detachment of the RCMP yesterday with these pictures. They agreed that this is a safety issue and should have been repaired long ago. They also said that they have no authority to demand repairs … but they can be witness to the fact that negligence has occurred if an accident ever happens here. Parrsboro DOT will be held responsible.
I was also told that employees are so busy that they haven’t had ‘time’ to do repairs. I think 15 months and counting, is ample time. The washouts get worse with each rainfall. Soon the pavement will be undermined and it will be a more costly repair and even more dangerous.”
The people who travel these roads everyday are understandably upset. How would you feel if someone close to you, lost their life as a result of 15 months of neglect by the Department of Highways? Think about it.
Update 4 Days later
Four days after this article was published, this road was suddenly fixed. Jean Marsh said, “Lo and behold, they fixed what two DoT supervisors said they wouldn’t do. Thank you to those who phoned and convinced them otherwise. One person’s complaints go ignored; several are taken seriously. There’s no logical explanation for allowing it to go for 15 months.”