Inverness MLA wants Port Hastings Rotary replaced

HALIFAX: The provincial government refused to bite on a request from a Strait area MLA to make changes to the Port Hastings Rotary.

During Question Period in the Nova Scotia Legislature on September 11, Inverness MLA Allan MacMaster recalled a recent incident on the rotary when a car was travelling toward him in the wrong direction. With millions being committed for highways in areas that aren’t being twinned, in the name of safety, MacMaster wanted to know if the rotary will also see attention.

“Nova Scotians are getting used to the rules for roundabouts. This is a rotary with different rules,” MacMaster told the house. “Tourists are too busy trying to decide which route they want to take to enter Cape Breton Island and where they are going, they are not seeing the yield signs.”

Lloyd Hines, the Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal, responded that the province will look at improving signage at the rotary, as well as more long-term plans.

“It definitely could require some upgrades, no doubt about it,” Hines said of the Port Hastings Rotary. “It’s in the long-term plan.”

In his supplemental question, the Progressive Conservative MLA pointed to traffic delays at the Canso Causeway and he asked Hines if his government is prepared to do something about the rotary and the potential to improve traffic flow.

“There’s an opportunity here. The rotary and the Causeway traffic issues are all connected, because they are so close together,” MacMaster said. “I have advanced ideas, some of which have come from constituents, about improving traffic flow, particularly for people who don’t even want to cross the Causeway, who have to make it through that rotary.”

“… The minister knows the area well. He’s a resident – not too far away.”

On August 23, traffic entering and leaving Cape Breton was initially delayed, then eventually backed up as far as the Town of Port Hawkesbury. A contractor working for NSP was replacing insulators on one of the transmission lines along the Canso Causeway but did not secure the proper permits from the transportation department to properly control traffic flow. To matters worse, two vessels went through the Canso Canal during that traffic jam, keeping the swing bridge open for almost 30 mintues.

Hines, also the MLA for Guysborough-Eastern Shore-Tracadie, noted that the province recently took over responsibility for the Canso Causeway and the swing bridge and is exploring options for re-routing traffic around the rotary.

“We were able to improve the bridge and improve the system that last year resulted in significant delays when the mechanism went down,” Hines told the house. “So we’ve gotten to that point, where we have local service which delays the time.

“Our department is looking at alternatives for rerouting some of the traffic that may not be going to the Causeway, either coming out of Trunk 19 or coming up from the Port Hastings area. That would alleviate some of the bottleneck that occurs when the bridge does go down.”