Bridge construction has homeowner worried about flooding

Dave Mathieson
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Kelly Melanson watched helplessly as heavy equipment raised her driveway by as much as six feet last week. Melanson had to call in to work because she was trapped on her property. Her boss told her to take a vacation day.

SPRINGHILL JUNCTION – Crafting a perfectly landscaped lawn and driveway can take years, but if the government decides to do your landscaping for you, perfection is thrown out the window.

Springhill Junction’s Kelly Melanson is finding that out the hard way.

“I work at the Amherst hospital and I couldn’t get out of my driveway, so I called my boss and he said take a vacation day,” said Melanson last week.

A new overpass is being built right beside Melanson’s home and last week they began construction on Melanson’s driveway.

Melanson does shift work at the hospital and was woken early in the morning to the sound of heavy construction equipment raising her driveway six feet.

“I didn’t realize there would be a six feet incline until two weeks ago and that was quite a surprise, but I had no idea it was going to be like this,” she said. “If they had plans why didn’t they tell me that right from the get-go? The engineers had to have known that (they needed to change the driveway) and they didn’t tell me or send me a letter, and gave me no notification whatsoever.”

Besides the shaking of her house when heavy equipment rumbles past her front door, the size of her front lawn being cut to half the size it was, and driving up and down a six-foot high driveway in the winter, what troubles Melanson most is the fear of flooding.

Melanson e-mailed her flooding concerns to the Nova Scotia Department of Transportation.

She received an e-mail from Bruce Langille, the department’s director of insurance and risk management, asking her to submit a professional report about her concerns.

A portion of the email said: “I would ask if you have obtained an engineering report or rec'd professional advise which indicates flooding will occur based on the work being performed by the Dept. Clearly if the dept acted or constructed in a negligent manner and failed in their duty to the public the Dept would investigate and if liable would certainly move to remedy the problem. I wait a copy of your professional report which confirms flooding will be a direct result of the construction activity, indeed we would provide same to our construction and design personnel for review.”

“I’m not an engineer but commonsense tells me it could flood,” she said. “What they don’t know and what they don’t care about is the weather we get.

“What if next year, or a few years down the road, we have a messy winter like the mess we had a couple of years ago? I have a strong feeling I’m going to run into serious drainage problems,” she added.

Melanson also wondered how long into the future the department could be held responsible for flooding in her home.

Melanson first saw stakes planted on her lawn a year ago.

“I came home from work and there was stakes in my yard,” she said. “I talked to the department of transportation and it didn’t go anywhere.”

Melanson feels she’s been treated poorly by the province.

“I’m not the type to stir things up but, when push comes to shove, all I want is to be treated half decently,” she said. “I’m a tax payer.”

Shelly Melanson, Kelly’s twin sister, agrees.

“She’s had nobody official from the department of transportation sit down in the kitchen and have a coffee and discuss it with her,” said Shelly. “They’re basically saying we’re going to do what we’re going to do and we’re not even going to give you a fruit basket. Suck it up.

“If she has drainage problems, it seems to me that it will be up to her to get a lawyer and an engineer to prove they did it wrong before they would even discuss it.”

As she talks the house shakes and plants rattle on the shelves.

“Even the cats are stressed out too from the house shaking,” added Shelly. “It’s stressful for the whole family.”

Melanson has been told several times the government is well within their jurisdiction to be doing what they’re doing.

“The thing that really got me upset is that they say they’re complying with the act,” said Melanson. “I got this house from family, so it means a lot to me.”

“People don’t realize this sort of thing happens because it doesn’t happen very often, but it could happen to anybody, just like that,” she added. “It just happens to be me this time.”




















Organizations: Amherst hospital, Nova Scotia Department of Transportation

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Recent comments

  • Kevin C
    May 11, 2012 - 08:53

    The DOT should offer to buy her out or move it back some. she should except if its reasonable offer. That house is not safe in that location anymore. Think about the kittys. Good luck Miss Melanson Hope It works out for ya.

  • james
    May 10, 2012 - 16:32

    I really wish that the provincial transportation dept would put up detailed engineering drawings or at least survey maps for all of their projects. I looked at Google StreetView and Ms. Melanson's property appears to be the house on the north side of the railway overpass. I'd like to see the engineering drawings and maps showing the proposed alignment and where the new bridge is going (I guess it goes on the north side of the existing steel bridge?). I'd also like to see the slope calculations and other work made public for TRANSPARENCY. This is as simple as the government creating a list of the projects on a website and putting links to the PDF files. Personally, I think Ms. Melanson's situation stinks and God help the provincial transportation dept if they ever pulled something like this on me. They take advantage of homeowners in poor rural areas and run roughshod over them - realigning roads to within metres of houses, when they should have bought them out or moved the house. In Ms Melanson's case, her house should have been bought out or moved. Her treatment by Mr. Kelly's department sounds very similar to the way a homeowner down in Boutilier's Point outside Hubbards was treated and ditto for another homeowner in Sutherlands River just outside New Glasgow - TIR is a shoddy shameful organization that has trampled on the property rights of homeowners far too much and it is time for people to FIGHT BACK WITH VENGEANCE !!!!

    • you'd think
      May 11, 2012 - 16:54

      For a department run by a reputable guy like Minister Bill Estabrooks, you'd think that he'd straighten these situations out. It doesn't have to be this way Bill. Your department wants to straighten or change roads and bridges - fine. But work with the property owners and be reasonable - if your project is going to markedly change the nature of someone's property, then morally (and legally) you should own up and buy them out.

  • Rhonda Simpson
    May 10, 2012 - 13:30

    There's a vacant lot directly acrossed the road fr Ms.Melanson's property... a "vacant lot" that Irving (I believe), once had a Service Station located on when I was a child... makes you wonder WHY they didn't just use that land- instead of STEALING Ms.Melanson's land. ...Could it be that the D.O.T wasn't interested in doing an enviormental clean up- and here in 'the Home of The Free'... they just take your land to save themselves money! OUTRAGEOUS! I hope Ms.Melanson exercises her rights as a TAX PAYER & fights this to the end!

  • William
    May 09, 2012 - 13:32

    Kelly the arrogance of the Department of Transportation really boggles the mind. Just imagine if the 'shoe' was on the other foot---you'd be raising their house and setting it back 50 feet on a new foundation with a complete landscaping job. You go girl---remember the squeaky wheel gets the grease. Good luck in your 'fight' against arrogance.

  • John
    May 09, 2012 - 08:02

    It always makes me wonder if the people who ensure that these government agancies even exit have any rights at all..i am thinking that flooding is the least of her worries. the fact that they are able to build that close to her house amazes me. Since she has raised concerns of flooding and if it does happen she will have grounds for a lawsuit against the DoT. givin the angle and position of the NEW overpass it won't be long before someone comes flying threw the side of her house because as we all know bridge decks and over passes freeze long before the actual road surface..unfortunatly the government WE support and PAY for has no concerns for such things. if you own the property have they purchased the section of her lawn that they decided was the best route for the project? It is sad that in this Educated Day and age that the government either provincial or federal can go ahead and disrupt someones life and property with no accountability what so ever. do any of us own anything? do paying our taxes give us any rights? i know it is hard for 1 person to fight the "SYSTEM" and it makes it even harder when the people in charge throw out the rulebook when it comes to something THEY want to do and QUOTE it when you have a problem with what THEY are doing. sadley your quality of life and your attempt to live each day in peace and calm means NOTHING to THEM. Fight it..use the SYSTEM against the ones who try to use it against you. i wish her good luck it wont be easy..but i promise it will be verry satisfying when you do win.