Road song

Mid­dle River mu­si­cians hope tune will get road re­paired

Cape Breton Post - - Front Page - BY NIKKI SUL­LI­VAN CAPE BRE­TON POST

There’s a song about the West Side Mid­dle River Road that is get­ting at­ten­tion for its hu­mour but the state of the road isn’t funny and it has res­i­dents wor­ried.

Kate Oland wrote the song 10 years ago as a way to make her son laugh as they trav­elled over the road. His leg was bro­ken and the se­vere bumps caused him pain, so Oland used the song to dis­tract him when driv­ing. But peo­ple say the road has been in dis­ar­ray for longer than 10 years.

“I’ve only been here for 14 years but peo­ple around here say the road has been bad for 30 years,” said Oland.

“They do come and do main­te­nance but it’s not mean­ing­ful main­te­nance. They put as­phalt in the pot­holes and that just washes away af­ter the next big rain­fall.”

On May 8, one big rain­fall did more than just wash out the as­phalt. It washed out an en­tire sec­tion of the road, which is af­fect­ing daily life, busi­nesses and emer­gency ser­vices re­sponse times.

Delina Simp­son co-owns K. Simp­son Tire­craft and is a med­i­cal first re­spon­der who vol­un­teers with the lo­cal fire depart­ment. She said she’s seen the dam­age the road has done to cus­tomer’s ve­hi­cles and ad­mits it is caus­ing is­sues for their busi­ness, but it’s the ef­fect it has on emer­gency calls that re­ally con­cerns her.

“Tak­ing a big fire truck out in an emer­gency, ev­ery sec­ond counts, and be­fore the washout we would have to drive so slow,” Simp­son said. “Now we have to drive up Hunters Moun­tain, down the Tran­sCanada and then back up the West Side. That’s a lot of time wasted.”

Be­fore the road washed out, Simp­son thinks it would take five to eight min­utes for a fire truck to get to the area. Now Simp­son es­ti­mates it takes at least 15 min­utes longer. More if the road con­tin­ues to de­te­ri­o­rate.

Former res­i­dent Janice Ross now lives in Mar­ga­ree but vis­its her par­ents’ farm in West Side Mid­dle River four times a week. Ross drives a van and be­lieves the road has caused so much dam­age to it that they’ll have to re­place it ear­lier than ex­pected.

“The heat shield has been ripped off, tons of un­der parts also ripped off — bush­ings, sta­bi­lizer links, struts,” she said, list­ing off some of the dam­age done driv­ing that road.

Ross also wor­ries about her par­ents who own a big farm in the area. “My dad drives trucks over that road, with big an­i­mals in them. When will my Dad not be able to do that any­more?”

The washout in­spired Oland to record her song with singer Mary Austin and gui­tarist Bill Con­all and put it on so­cial me­dia with hopes it would bring at­ten­tion to the is­sue.

“If a school bus was go­ing over the part that washed out, we would be hav­ing a dif­fer­ent dis­cus­sion right now,” she says.

Oland knows of one busi­ness that has closed its doors be­cause of the road’s poor con­di­tion be­fore the wash out.

“It was a mo­tor­cy­cle bed and break­fast,” she said. “They felt it was too much of a li­a­bil­ity to have peo­ple on the road. And they are right. But that’s a busi­ness that is gone from our com­mu­nity.”

Over the years, pe­ti­tions have been filed and res­i­dents have been ask­ing for the road to be re­paired but noth­ing seems to hap­pen.

“It has been ad­dressed and noth­ing comes out of it — just a big­ger hole in the road,” said Simp­son.

But she is hope­fully the at­ten­tion the song is get­ting will bring at­ten­tion to the much-needed road re­pair.

“Any lit­tle bit will help. They say the squeaky wheel gets the grease.”

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