Government changes mind on highway project

Darrell
Darrell Cole
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Passing lanes on Wentworth Highway won't be removed

HALIFAX - The province is changing its mind on narrowing a key highway through the Wentworth Valley.

Transportation Minister Bill Estabrooks passing and turning lanes on Trunk 4 through the valley will be maintained, alleviating concerns among Wentworth residents worried about safety.

"I'm fully aware of the importance of that highway. There's no doubt the Cobequid Pass will be closed again this winter and the number one recommendation that jumped out to me is that the highway through the valley be built up to an acceptable standard so it can handle that volume of traffic," Estabrooks said Wednesday. "That highway is going to be maintained so that when (the Cobequid Pass) is closed it will be able to handle the trucks and other vehicles that will have to use it. It needs those left-turning lanes and it needs those passing lanes. They are necessary and that's the bottom line."

Estabrooks said he has accepted an invitation from Cumberland South MLA Murray Scott to meet with Wentworth residents and added the shoulders on the road will be up to standards of other roads.

The Cumberland South MLA questioned the minister about the highway project in the legislature on Monday and he's pleased with Estabrooks' commitment.

"The minister has given me his assurances that he's willing to come to Wentworth to see for himself what this could mean to the community and he's committed to meeting with residents to hear their concerns," Scott said. "I hope when he sees it he'll change his mind and get those shoulders repaved and leave the turning lanes alone."

Following recommendations by consultants Opus International that the road through the valley be maintained and fixed for use as an alternate route to the Cobequid Pass, the province announced back in August its plans to repave the highway from Mahoney's Corner to the top of Folly Mountain over several years.

However, when the tender was issued Scott was made aware of several changes including removing the passing and turning lanes and eliminating the shoulders.

"This road is a lot different than other trunk highways in that you could have 20,000 vehicles a day go through there because of an accident or weather," Scott said. "It's also a year-round truck route for the salt mine in Pugwash. I believe they're making a mistake here and my question is are they putting public safety at risk to save money?"

Scott raised the issue in the legislature on Monday and was told by the minister that the passing lanes will not be removed. He's hoping Estabrooks will also commit to keeping the turning lanes and rebuild the shoulders that have already been removed.

No date has been set for a public meeting.

Wentworth resident and county deputy warden Kathy Redmond said the minister's commitment should allay fears in the community.

"It appears as though they are going to put things back the way they were," Redmond said. "I was talking to someone at Cumberland Paving and they told me they've been told to put the shoulders back down. What will be done is what should have been done in the first place and that's pave what's there. That's just rumour though."

Redmond said the province planned to narrow the road from 11 metres to eight and remove the turning and passing lanes. Residents are concerned with the safety of the road, considering the amount of traffic.

"Traffic is still rerouted through and there are no spring weight restrictions. We have a lot of loggers hauling their loads so they can be sent to the mills. It's a safety issue," she said.

The construction is the first substantial work on the former Trans-Canada since the Cobequid Pass opened in 1997.

dcole@amherstdaily.com

Organizations: Trans-Canada

Geographic location: Wentworth Valley, HALIFAX, Cumberland South Folly Mountain Pugwash

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Recent comments

  • Andrew
    February 24, 2010 - 23:46

    It's good news for me, since I never take the Toll Highway. It's just not worth $4 to get to my inlaws 10 minutes faster. LOL. Plus there is an NSLC on the way, saving me time from driving off the highway into some other town.

  • Bick's
    February 24, 2010 - 23:46

    If that point made by Andrew Bickford about the easy access to an NSLC outlet is greatly publicized, this becomes a non-issue. The old 104 will be brought up to snuff faster than you can say Jack on the Rocks!

  • Jack
    February 24, 2010 - 23:46

    The Wentworth highway was only ever dangerous because of driver impatience. The TCH narrowed from 4 lanes at 100 kmh to 2 lanes at 80 kmh and most of the deaths in Death Valley were caused by drivers impatiently passing at the wrong time, or falling asleep and drifting into the path of an oncoming vehicle.

    I remember one fatality caused by snow, and that involved a car in March bearing flat, racing slick tires and hitting a wind drift.

    If the Pass is closed because of poor road conditions, the Folly Mountain route will be just as bad. At least if one is stuck overnight, there may be a house nearby that will take you in.

  • Jack on the rocks
    February 24, 2010 - 23:45

    Wentworth NSLC sales just increased 15%.Open for business.haha.

  • Rick
    February 24, 2010 - 23:45

    However, when the tender was issued Scott was made aware of several changes including removing the passing and turning lanes and eliminating the shoulders.
    Scott didn't read the tender. It said no such thing, therefore the province didn't change its mind and is simply continuing with the plan to keep HWY 4 up to a safe standard.

  • know it all
    February 24, 2010 - 23:45

    knock knock people - check the weather before your start your trip - if it says snow - stay where your at - it's not rocket science - it's called using your brain

  • Sandra
    February 24, 2010 - 23:45

    I agree with Jack the highway it's self was never the problem. Impatients and inattention of the drivers using the highway created the problems on our highway.
    We need the paved shoulders put back on this highway. When the traffic is rerouted because of problems on the Pass many of these people have not been back through here since the pass opened. Thinking they have the same old highway that used to be here, not knowing the paved shoulders have been removed will spell disaster.

  • Vince
    February 24, 2010 - 23:45

    I have experienced(driven) the roads that
    Cumberland paving have done and their
    work is far superior to the work done on parts of HWY #6 between Shiminicas and Port Howe. The work done over he past 5 years between Glenholm and Lower Five Islands is of a high quality done also by Cumberland Paving. I am one travel the Wentworth route when I
    go from Northport to Truro, Halifax and
    New Glasgow, much less traffic to keep up with, the only thing is the 80 kms
    speed limit, I feel 90 would be more
    appropriate.

  • lb1
    February 24, 2010 - 23:45

    wow ... so if it a storm shuts down the pass , its back to the same danger that was to replace it in the first place .... only alot worse now due to the volume of traffic ...makes ya go hmmmmmmmmmmmmm

  • Stan
    February 24, 2010 - 23:45

    Finally! Sounds like some COMMON
    SENSE is going to pervail! The Company that put the Toll highway
    has pervailed long enough, now lets
    try and please WE the residents again and why not put the SPEED LIMIT back
    where it was too, while we're at it.
    S.Stiles