Ma­jor road projects planned for Vic­to­ria Co.

West Side Mid­dle River Road, Hwy 105 Tim Hor­tons/irv­ing and Seal Is­land Bridge named in 5-year plan

The Victoria Standard - - Front Page - AN­DREW BROOKS

Res­i­dents of Vic­to­ria County can look for­ward to three ma­jor road­way projects in 2018 that, by many ac­counts, are long over­due.

In the 2018-19 Five-year High­way Im­prove­ment Plan re­leased Dec. 19, projects at West Side Mid­dle River Road in Mid­dle River, the Tim Hor­tons /Irv­ing com­plex out­side Bad­deck and Seal Is­land Bridge got the green light.

In to­tal, the plan calls for $285 mil­lion in cap­i­tal spend­ing on high­ways, bridges and roads in 2018-19, $60 mil­lion more than this year.

The plan also ear­marks $10 mil­lion in new spend­ing for a gravel road pro­gram in­tended to re­build ex­ist­ing gravel roads in ru­ral Nova Sco­tia in a man­ner that will im­prove safety and re­duce main­te­nance costs. It is not clear if any of that money will be spent in Cape Bre­ton. The Five-year High­way Im­prove­ment Plan is sub­ject to ap­proval in the 2018-19 bud­get.

Here is a closer look at what res­i­dents can ex­pect with each project.

West Side Mid­dle River Road

The pro­vin­cial plan calls for 5.7Km of ‘main­te­nance paving’, start­ing at the be­gin­ning of the road at High­way 105 in Nyanza. The Stan­dard reached out to Peter Hack­ett, Chief En­gi­neer for the Depart­ment of Trans­porta­tion and In­fra­struc­ture Re­newal (DTIR), to de­fine ‘main­te­nance paving’.

“It’s re­ally a clean-up of the sur­face of the road, so it's not get­ting into a lot of drainage work or re­plac­ing of cul­verts. It's get­ting the sur­face of the road cleaned up to make it pass­able and to give you a bet­ter driv­ing sur­face.”

Hack­ett said that a com­plete road re­build is an ex­pen­sive pro­ce­dure. The process be­ing called for in­volves a pre­lim­i­nary cleanup of pot­holes fol­lowed by a “fairly thick” lift of as­phalt spread over the en­tire sur­face of the road, from shoul­der to shoul­der.

Hack­ett said the paving won’t solve the road’s prob­lems for the next twenty years, but it will for “a good long time.”

West Side Mid­dle River Road has been a sore point in Mid­dle River for years. Last year, the road gar­nered at­ten­tion when runoff from a heavy spring storm over­whelmed a cul­vert near Mac­don­ald Lane, wash­ing out a swath of the road ap­prox­i­mately thirty feet wide and twenty feet deep. With the pro­vin­cial elec­tion in full swing, Pre­mier Stephen Mc­neil, then MLA Pam Eyk­ing and Con­ser­va­tive Can­di­date (now Vic­to­ria-the Lakes MLA) Keith Bain all made vis­its to what be­came lo­cally known as ‘the gulch’.

Bad­deck li­brary as­sis­tant and Mid­dle River res­i­dent Kate Oland was in­spired to write a song about the state of the road. The tune found its way onto CBC Ra­dio’s As it Hap­pens in May.

Res­i­dents have had their hopes raised be­fore when teams have come out to sur­vey the road, and even spray paint the pave­ment with mark­ers. When asked what the like­li­hood of this project go­ing ahead was, Hack­ett replied: “If it’s on the plan, the plan is for it to take place.”

Hack­ett said while some 100-se­ries high­way projects get de­layed due to is­sues such as ac­quir­ing land, sec­ondary road im­prove­ments are most of­ten com­pleted once they are named in the doc­u­ment.

The spe­cific time­line of the project is not yet known, but will hap­pen some­time dur­ing paving sea­son (May to Oc­to­ber).

Tim Hor­tons / Irv­ing near Bad­deck

Res­i­dents and tourists have ex­pe­ri­enced the chaotic na­ture of traf­fic that en­ters and ex­its the Tim Hor­tons / Irv­ing com­plex along High­way 105 just west of Bad­deck – par­tic­u­larly in sum­mer months. How­ever, mul­ti­ple at­tempts by Mu­nic­i­pal Coun­cil­lors to raise the is­sue with DTIR have pre­vi­ously been met with re­sis­tance to re­duce speed or make in­fra­struc­ture changes.

Safety im­prove­ment is part of the ad­di­tional $60 mil­lion that was an­nounced in the plan. When Hack­ett asked local staff to name ac­cess points along 100-se­ries high­ways that could be im­proved, the Bad­deck lo­ca­tion was named.

Hack­ett said a de­sign for the ‘ac­cess im­prove­ment’ is not yet com­plete, but it will likely in­volve a des­ig­nated turn left lane for east­bound ve­hi­cles at­tempt­ing to en­ter the com­plex. He said the de­sign may re­sem­ble the traf­fic pat­tern de­signed at the Tim Hor­tons / Irv­ing com­plex in We'ko­qma'q.

To his knowl­edge, Hack­ett says there has been no dis­cus­sion about cost-shar­ing of the project with own­ers of the com­plex. Im­prove­ments are in­tended for the pro­vin­cial right-of-way and do not ad­dress

the flow of traf­fic once ve­hi­cles are on the pri­vate premise. Though Hack­ett did not com­ment on the spe­cific prop­erty in ques­tion, he did say there are ways to im­prove the “chan­nel­iza­tion of traf­fic” (the way in which traf­fic flows) on and off the prop­erty. Great Bras d’or Cross­ing Bridge (Seal Is­land)

Mo­torists have ex­pe­ri­enced sev­eral lane clo­sures on the Seal Is­land Bridge over the past two years. In Oc­to­ber 2016, the bridge ex­pe­ri­enced two days of clo­sures when an over­head truss needed re­pair. In late Septem­ber 2017, sin­gle lane clo­sures oc­curred for sev­eral days while crews made in­spec­tions to the bridge.

The prov­ince’s plan names it a “ma­jor bridge project”, which means more lane clo­sures can be ex­pected over the next year.

“The bridge will be go­ing through a planned full in­spec­tion next year which will de­ter­mine any re­hab the bridge will re­quire over fu­ture years,” Hack­ett wrote in a Dec. 27 email.

Due to the un­cer­tainty of the level of re­pairs needed, the bridge has been listed as a project span­ning from 2018-2023.

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