Residents circulate petition to deal with transportation issues

McEachern Road is now the only access point for the communities of Port Royal, St. Mary’s and Janvrin’s Island on Isle Madame.

JANVRIN’S ISLAND: Residents in this part of Isle Madame were disappointed to learn there is no more money this year to conduct improvements to their roads and bridges.

On June 17, the Janvrin’s Island Community Center hosted a public meeting with Cape Breton-Richmond MLA Alana Paon, attended by about 35 people.

Center treasurer Gloria Hill told The Reporter it was “an open subject meeting” but most of the questions were about transportation issues.

One issue identified was that part of the Port Royal Road was not included in this year’s paving tender.

“That was supposed to be paved as well because the road is in very bad condition,” Hill stated. “That road actually had a different survey number and that survey number didn’t get included in the tender, and therefore, it wasn’t tendered which was an oversight.”

Hill said many people asked about the status of the Port Royal Bridge which has been temporarily closed since late last year. One person asked about the possibility of opening the bridge to pedestrians, since McEachern Road is unsafe for those travelling on foot.

Hill said the lack of safety on McEachern Road is a major concern among residents.

“One of the people at the meeting said that one of the floats that was taking the paver down, they actually couldn’t make one of the turns on McEachern Road, without stopping, backing up and doing it on the second try,” Hill noted

Photo by Jake Boudrot Pictured is the Port Royal Bridge which has been closed for more than a year.

In a press release issued after the meeting, Paon said, “the public is not feeling safe” when it comes to local roads, bridges or road shoulders. She also acknowledged the importance of the Port Royal Bridge to local traffic and the walking public.

Paon said she meets with regional supervisors at the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal (DTIR) quarterly. She said she uses information provided to her office by constituents and from her own observations.

At her most recent meeting with DTIR officials, Paon addressed the dramatic coastal erosion leading to Janvrin’s Island. She emphasized the need for a coastal erosion plan across the constituency.

After more questions about McEachern Road, Hill said they were told by the MLA that this and other problems, such as the “Haul-Over Hill” bank erosion can only be dealt with next year because this year’s transportation budget has been exhausted.

“All she knew was that the budget was expended for this year and everything they’re working on is for the next budget,” Hill said. “It sounded like the bridge budget was absorbed by the Lennox Passage Bridge which went over budget to repair some unexpected problems. When they started ripping it apart, they found more problems than they thought, so extra budget went into that. So it didn’t sound like there was any bridge budget left, but it sounded like the road budget was expended as well.”

The bank atop the “Haul-Over Hill” in Janvrin’s Island is rapidly eroding.

Brian Taylor with Communications Nova Scotia told The Reporter that the $300 million in capital funding for the province “is not divided up by constituency,” but is based on infrastructure needs.

“Work continues on the rehabilitation of Lennox Passage Bridge and it is anticipated to be complete late summer/early fall.” Taylor said. “This is a capital project and would not impact road maintenance or other construction in the area.”

Residents who attended the community meeting are currently circulating a petition to have DTIR do more work in the area and Paon added she plans to introduce it in the fall sitting of the Legislative Assembly.

Upon turning into McEachern Road, motorists are greeted by a road filled with potholes and a greatly diminished road shoulder.