Transportation representatives visit with Inverness Council

Captain Gillis Bridge on Route 19 has been reduced to one-lane of traffic..

PORT HOOD: Members of Inverness Municipal Council had a long sit-down with Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal (DTIR) officials during the May 16 committee-of-the-whole meeting.

Visiting with council were Jamie Chisholm, Eastern District Director, Steve MacDonald, Inverness North/Victoria Area Manager and Darren Blundon, Inverness South Area/ Richmond Area Manager.

Both managers offered council an overview of the work currently being done in the municipality, what’s coming up, and all three fielded questions from councillors.

While conversation remained friendly, Margaree and area councillor Laurie Cranton alluded to the state of local roads when asked if he had any questions or comments for the visitors.

“Got an hour?” he said.

Cranton went on to list several trouble spots in his district. On May 15, he said, a large truck overturned in the Grand Etang area, due to high winds. The threat of having high winds topple a large truck is very real in that area, he said.

“We have two or three trucks a year blow over, and if the truck fell the wrong way you could have a fatality,” Cranton said. “It’s scary.”

He said folks in that area would like to see the DTIR explore the option of stopping traffic there during wind storms. MacDonald said his office is in the process of getting an RCMP summary of the incident, and from there, it’s possible to put a procedure in place.

Jim Mustard, Inverness and area councillor, noted the importance of proper shouldering, especially where new pavement is put down.

“I just want to emphasise let’s get the management and maintenance correct,” he said. “We’re seeing erosion of pavement that’s just a couple of years old. I know I’m being emphatic, but it’s for a reason. We all need to work together here.”

Chisholm said that Mustard’s observation about shoulder wash-outs is well taken, but he noted that the DTIR has only so much money to spread around.

“Everything we do with construction and maintenance is a balance between safety and economics,” Chisholm said. “We could probably save a lot of pavement and make a wide shoulder, but that comes with a cost. We do that, we have to do less roads.”

Whycocomagh and area councillor John MacLennan fleshed out the needs of his area, and he invited MacDonald to see first-hand what’s going on.

“Maybe someday you and I can go for a drive, Steve,” MacLennan said.

The tour of the area is currently being scheduled, and Cranton is going for a drive with MacDonald through his coverage area.

The conversation hit a bit of a sour note when Warden Betty Ann MacQuarrie asked about the replacement of the Captain Gillis Bridge in Port Hood. A temporary bridge is in place now, but the reconstruction of the original bridge isn’t scheduled until 2023.

“It can’t be left like that for three or four years, my goodness,” she said.

CAO Keith MacDonald noted that not having the Captain Gillis Bridge in place is a blow to the tourist trade.

“I know that’s not your department, but Route 19 and the Causeway bring in all kinds of travelers.”

The DTIR representatives said they could discuss with Halifax the possibility of having the replacement bridge done sooner, and MacQuarrie noted that council will put some calls in as well.