Town against highway twinning
The mayor of Port Hawkesbury wants the province to hit the brakes on a proposed highway project.
Brenda Chisholm-Beaton said twinning a seven-kilometre stretch of Highway 104 from Port Hastings to Port Hawkesbury is “unsustainable and unnecessary.”
The Nova Scotia Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal is currently touring the province trying to gauge public support for tolls to speed up twinning projects by decades along eight sections of major highways, including two in Cape Breton.
A feasibility study that’s being presented in Port Hawkesbury tonight — one of 11 scheduled across the province — estimates it would cost $87.1 million to twin the highway running through Port Hawkesbury, bypassing the town entirely. That would hurt local businesses, said Chisholm-Beaton, who plans to attend the public consultation session at the Port Hawkesbury Civic Centre from 6:30-8:30 p.m.
“Right now we have 12,500 vehicles travelling along Reeves Street on any given day, so reducing that amount of traffic on our road, I think, would have an impact on commerce in the town…” Mayor Brenda Chisholm-Beaton
“We are concerned, of course,” she said. “Right now we have 12,500 vehicles travelling along Reeves Street on any given day, so reducing that amount of traffic on our road, I think, would have an impact on commerce in the town, and it would certainly have an impact on commerce in Port Hastings as well.”
Chisholm-Beaton said while twinning highways makes sense for some areas of the province, her town is working on its own plan to revitalize its main thoroughfare.
She said the estimated $4-million Destination Reeves Street project, which has already applied for government funding, would make the downtown more attractive and improves safety.
“Forever we’ve had the highway that’s gone right through the core of our town, and we live well with that and we do have a plan to improve on that,” she said.
“We must consider the authentic Cape Breton Island experience. Visitors want to see the coast, to experience the culture, and different communities. They don’t come here to drive on a tolled highway.”