Photo by Drake Lowthers An individual is seen working on rock stabilization, that will allow Public Works to add an additional lane between the causeway and the roundabout.

PORT HASTINGS: While initial construction has begun to upgrade the often-time confusing and congested roundabout that motorists enter as soon as they cross the Canso Causeway, into an updated rotary, it will still be some time before any major construction is seen.

The acting-director for the eastern district with Public Works, advised right now they are currently conducting rock stabilization on the rock face between the causeway, and the existing rotary.

“We are putting in some rock anchors; that is going to allow us to add an additional lane between the causeway and the roundabout,” Paul Colton told The Reporter. “And it will allow for holding additional vehicles there during traffic stoppages.”

This summer, the department is looking at putting out another tender, as he indicated, there is some widening that needs to be done.

“We’re installing retaining walls just east of the visitor information centre and we’re looking to get that construction work done this summer,” Colton said. “That’s going to allow us to widen up the footprint of the whole area and allow for some new lanes to be put in when the roundabout is constructed.”

The main contract for the remainder of the roundabout and bridge construction will be going out to tender this fall.

“We’re hoping that it can get started and get a little bit of work done this fall,” Colton said. “But the majority of the work is going to happen summer 2024.”

When asked what the most difficult aspect of the re-design project was, the district’s director agreed it was the fact the road would be remaining in use as the province’s major 100-series highway, throughout the duration of the construction phases.

“It’s something our team has been working on, we’re trying to find the best way to move traffic though there while construction is happening,” Colton said. “So we’ve been putting a lot of effort into looking at options and ideas how to get traffic through the site.”

With the warmer months approaching, and the use of the Canso Causeway set to re-open to marine traffic, which will inevitably cause back-ups into the rotary, he said, it’s a situation that will be monitored by the construction team.

“Most of the work won’t be right in the lane, we’re going to be off the roadway, but there might be some disruption,” Colton said of construction occurring during heightened tourist seasons. “This summer shouldn’t be too bad, and next summer, we’re going to have to really find the most efficient to move traffic through the roundabout, which will probably change a few times throughout the construction.”

Speaking on the local concerns of routine emergency department closures and the need to either travel to or from the mainland to access health care services, emergency or otherwise, he explained there would be precautions taken for emergency vehicles to get through the construction site.

“That’s definitely something we’re considering during the construction phase, so we’re going to have to make sure when we set up traffic control, that when it’s backing up that we’re going to have to allow emergency vehicle to find a way through,” Colton said. “Which will be a part of the overall design.”

While the majority of the work will be completed in fall 2024, construction is anticipated to be finalized by the end of summer 2025.

Previous articleMunicipality of the County of Antigonish still actively pursuing consolidation
Next articleCabot taking ‘mulligan’ on West Mabou Beach Provincial Park golf course
Drake Lowthers has been a community journalist for The Reporter since July, 2018. His coverage of the suspicious death of Cassidy Bernard garnered him a 2018 Atlantic Journalism Award and a 2019 Better Newspaper Competition Award; while his extensive coverage of the Lionel Desmond Fatality Inquiry received a second place finish nationally in the 2020 Canadian Community Newspaper Awards for Best Feature Series. A Nova Scotia native, who has called Antigonish home for the past decade, Lowthers has a strong passion in telling people’s stories in a creative, yet thought-provoking way. He graduated from the journalism program at Holland College in 2016, where he played varsity football with the Hurricanes. His simple pleasures in life include his two children, photography, live music and the local sports scene.