Coal should be moved by rail

Cape Breton Post - - EDITORIAL - Ge­orge S. Peach Glace Bay (For­mer Devco Rail­way em­ployee)

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.

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