Coal should be moved by rail
I find it hard to believe that there was any credible traffic impact study conducted for the Donkin Mine Road as reported in the Cape Breton Post recently. After all, if anyone has ever pulled out of the Old Airport Road intersection turning towards Sydney then you know that there is a blind crest facing you.
Mind you, today’s fuel-injected vehicles can get out of this intersection with little problem. A semi-truck with a full load of coal on board trying to make this same maneuver is a recipe for disaster. Anyone heading to Glace Bay travelling 80+ km/hr. could be met with a semi-truck completely across Grand Lake Road with only seconds to try and stop.
According to Marla McInnis, spokesperson for Nova Scotia Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal (TIR), factors to be considered in determining if traffic lights are needed scored very low, primarily due to low traffic volume, including the number of trucks turning left at peak hours. I’m not sure who is providing TIR with this data, but they obviously haven’t travelled this four-lane highway. It would be very easy to find out through the Freedom of Information Act the facts of any study that was done.
I don’t have a vested interest in the transportation of Donkin coal. I did, however, work for nearly 30 years on the Devco Railway. I was originally hired and worked out of the old Round House that was located where the Skate Park is today on Reserve Street in Glace Bay. Built in the 1800s, it was replaced by a state of the art rail center that was built in 1983 and is still in operation at Victoria Junction, Sydney. We have the trains, skilled manpower and repair facility all in place to deliver as much coal as Kameron Coal wants to mine, and deliver either to Nova Scotia Power Lingan or the coal piers in Sydney. The only thing missing is the rail line.
At a public meeting I attended at the Port Morien Legion, one of the fishermen in attendance made the statement, that “Kameron Coal doesn’t want to barge coal any more than we don’t want them to barge coal.” Kameron Coal is rattling our chains so we will go after the powers-that-be in the hopes the government will get involved and build them a railroad. Rather than spend their money to build a railroad to haul their coal, this company wants to move their product at the expense of a very lucrative fishing industry with little to no concern for the safety of the travelling public.
Let’s face it, trucks or the local roads can’t keep up with demand and there is no way that the fishermen are going to sit by and allow the destruction of an industry that they have worked hard to develop.
Let’s stop talking about coal roads and traffic lights, and deal with the elephant in the room. We are being led to believe that it will take years to build a rail line. If they had started this rail project four years ago when they bought into this project we would be hearing train whistles now. Just look at the twining of highways between New Glasgow and Antigonish.
As for land acquisition, this is where the government can help. It has also come to light in an article in this paper in recent weeks that infrastructure funding is available from the government. Mind you this would come at the expense of the mainland having to give up some of their twinning highway budget.
There is not a fisherman or miner that I know of that are blaming each other for this dilemma. Neither wants a job at the expense of the other. The owners and operators of Kameron Coal are delusional if they think that the fishers of Port Morien, Donkin, Port Caledonia, Glace Bay, South Head, Mira Bay, and Main-a-Dieu are going to participate in or allow anything to jeopardize their livelihoods. So instead of starting a war with these fishers and the citizens being affected by trucking, why not divert some profits and let’s get started on a railroad.