Janvrin’s Island residents demand road upgrades

    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: A community group is lobbying the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal (DTIR) to conduct more improvements to roads the area.

    On April 22, the Janvrin’s Island Community Center held its annual general meeting during which a resident raised concerns with a DTIR contract to start this spring.

    “He had spoken to one of the contractors that was going to be doing the paving project and found out that all they were doing was resurfacing,” said Janvrin’s Island Community Center treasurer Gloria Hill, who noted they were able to confirm this with DTIR officials.

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

    For the past four years, residents of Janvrin’s Island – as well as Port Royal and St. Mary’s, all on Isle Madame – have been waiting for the DTIR to conduct much need shouldering, guardrail improvements, culvert replacement, erosion remediation, and repaving.

    “The Department of Transportation has been unofficially saying, ‘we’re working on the roads in your area,’” Hill noted. “They paved Petit de Grat, they did behind the church in West Arichat, they did the lower road, they did the Cove Road. They said, ‘yes, we’re going to do you guys, you really need a lot of work and we’re just going to do it, you’re next.’”

    After four years of patiently and silently waiting, Hill said residents were recently disappointed.

    “We were pretty patient, we weren’t making a whole lot of noise,” Hill recalled. “It wasn’t getting done, it wasn’t getting done. Then when we heard this contract was up, we thought, ‘finally, they’re going to do what we need them to do,’ until we find out that the contract really doesn’t include what we need.

    “It’s only half the road, five kilometres instead of 10 and they’re not dealing with a lot of the issues. Port Royal Bridge is a big issue. The ‘Haul-Over Hill’ is a big issue, and then all the shouldering. There’s a lot of places that don’t have guardrails, guardrails are non-existent, or they’re in such bad shape they certainly wouldn’t stop anything.”

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

    One of the main concerns identified by residents surrounds McEachern Road in Port Royal, which is now the only entrance to Janvrin’s Island and St. Mary’s after the Port Royal Bridge was closed last year. Residents are worried that the road has no shoulder, the entrance from Port Royal is angled wrong, there is gravel washing from Harbourview Drive, the turns are not big enough to handle large vehicles, and the entrance on Route 206 has poor visibility.

    “They did do some work to McEachern Road last year,” Hill noted. “They beefed up the shoulders a bit, and they paved a few sections, but the problem is McEachern Road is not built to handle heavy traffic. The turns are too sharp.

    “It’s just an accident waiting to happen, and it doesn’t have to be that’s the thing. It should be dealt with.”

    Photo by Jake Boudrot In November, 2017 there was a weight restriction on the Port Royal Bridge.

    Residents also want the Port Royal Bridge replaced and that road re-opened to traffic. Since the creek that feeds the water system is the only salt-water access to the lake for migrating and spawning fish and other sea life, residents want to know if the bridge will be restored to preserve the water flow and access that currently exists.

    Locally referred to as the “Haul-Over Hill,” which is past Haddock Harbour and the Fisherman’s Reserve in Janvrin’s Island, residents are concerned with the condition of the eroding bank which is barely holding up much needed guardrails.

    The smaller culvert at the Sluice Bridge has led to problems like road flooding.

    The Sluice Bridge, which lies at the point where Janvrin Harbour Road crosses the harbour, has drainage issues. The original culvert, which was installed in 1986, was replaced with a smaller culvert in 2001 which has flooded the road repeatedly and creates a stench in the summer from a nearby marsh due to the lack of proper water flow.

    With 55 homes on Janvrin’s Island and double that in St. Mary’s and Port Royal, as well as businesses like Appleseed Energy, the annual Janvrin’s Island Bluegrass Festival, and school busses, the community group pointed out that there are many people who rely on those roads.

    To voice these concerns, Hill said the group sent a letter, along with pictures, to DTIR district manager Terry White, as well as to transportation minister Lloyd Hines, Cape Breton-Richmond MLA Alana Paon, District 2 municipal councillor Alvin Martell, and Opposition Leader Tim Houston.

    During the committee-of-the-whole meeting Monday night in Arichat, Martell received approval from Richmond Municipal Council to send a letter to the DTIR voicing their concerns with the condition of the road.

    This is a picture of the guardrail on the “Haul-Over Hill” which is precariously placed on the eroding bank.