HALIFAX: The future of a bridge serving several communities in Isle Madame is yet to be determined.
Cape Breton-Richmond MLA Alana Paon said she is concerned with the condition of the detour that has been in use since the closure of the Port Royal Bridge late last year, and is seeking a resolution from the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal (DTIR) on the issue.
The bridge had been operating under a five-tonne weight restriction since 2010. On December 18, the DTIR closed the bridge due to the deteriorating condition of the structure.
“Because there is a detour option of less than one kilometre, and with winter conditions upon us, closing the bridge was deemed the best option until a decision is made regarding the future of the bridge,” said DTIR Eastern District bridge engineer, Chasta Boudreau via e-mail.
Traffic has been redirected onto MacEachern Road, which Paon said is in need of upgrades to address numerous pot holes and other safety concerns.
“There’s one area when you come over a hillside where there’s no drainage on one side. Water is flooding over the road and freezing into a sheet of ice,” she said. “It’s extremely dangerous, and there’s some coastal erosion as well, and no guardrails.”
Paon is also concerned with the safety of the intersection onto Highway 206 from MacEachern Road.
“There’s less visibility from traffic coming from both directions than there would have been going onto the Port Royal Road and on to the Port Royal Bridge,” she said.
During last week’s question period in the Nova Scotia Legislature, the PC MLA asked the Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal, Lloyd Hines, if the department has plans to repair or replace the bridge. Hines said the condition of the structure is in the process of being reviewed. Once the assessment is complete, a consultant’s report will be supplied to the department indicating what the repairs will entail. Paon also asked the minister if he would consider upgrades to MacEachern Road if the bridge is not reinstated.
“I will undertake to have our people take a look at it and see if there’s anything special that we can do there,” said Hines.
While the bridge remains the preferred route, Paon says she hopes to see improvements to the detour if repairs to the structure are not feasible.
“There has to be some resolution here for residents and it needs to happen in the next fiscal year,” she said. “I look forward to speaking with the minister further on this issue, as well as working with the local staff to resolve this issue for the community.”