Construction of Sydney road stopped in its tracks after railway refuses to grant permit

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SYDNEY — For now, it’s a road that leads nowhere. And Gary Campbell admitted it could stay that way for a long time.

The provincial government cannot connect this street to the Sydney Port Access Road intersection with Lingan Road unless it receives the permit to build a grade crossing from the owner of the Cape Breton and Central Nova Scotia Railway. The U.S.-based company, Genesee & Wyoming, said in August it has safety concerns about a road being constructed at that point on the rail line, and won't give the necessary approvals so the province can finish the project. Cape Breton Post

The president of Nova Scotia Lands, a provincial Crown corporation overseeing construction work on the former coke ovens site, said the road and sidewalk located just a couple of metres short of the intersection at the Sydney Port Access Road and Lingan Road remains incomplete because it requires approval to build a grade crossing over the rail line.

The only thing coming in between the two is the Cape Breton and Central Nova Scotia railway line, owned by U.S.-based Genesee & Wyoming Inc., which has cited safety concerns in the large intersection.

Campbell said the rail company refuses to grant a permit to complete the four-way intersection.

“We’ve got to try to figure out how we’re going to think our way through that one. In the meantime, we’re going to finish the road as best as we can … but right now we don’t have approval to cross the railway,” Campbell said on Wednesday.

The federal-provincial 10-year, $400-million agreement to remediate the Sydney tar ponds and coke ovens sites officially terminates on March 31, and all work must be completed by then, he said.

The Sydney tar ponds and coke ovens cleanup project director Donnie Burke said the project hit this hurdle in the "11th hour."

"Our construction was deemed to be complete on Sept. 30 ... with the contractor on-site. We discussed with the rail officials different options to be able to make the road functional, such as different tie-ins, or if we moved the traffic lights around, but at the end of the day we couldn't solve it there on site," Burke said.

He said the railway denied a permit based on the fact vehicles could get stuck in the intersection when the safety arms come down to stop traffic from approaching trains.

"The fear was a car would get caught in that staging area and it would put the driver at risk. Nobody wants anybody to get hurt because of this crossing."

A completely built intersection would cost approximately $750,000, Burke added.

"We spent close to a half-million dollars so that when we did get approval and the province could negotiate a proper crossing permit for the rail crossing, then we would have about $500,000 of the work already done. We tried to do everything that we could without having to see it tore up, I guess, if the design had to be changed or tweaked a bit."

The road, which is connected to Inverness Street through Victoria Road at one end, may be a road that leads nowhere for the foreseeable future since the construction season is winding down fast.

Campbell said without permission from the railway, the end of the road would have concrete barricades put in place.

“We’ve got to get the paving in before the asphalt plant closes, which will be very shortly, he said.

“In the future, if we never end up hooking it up (to the SPAR intersection), at least put a cul-de-sac on it and it would open part of the former coke oven site for other development.”

The land is owned by Harbourside Commercial Park, a provincial Crown corporation, which currently has 15 tenants on lots already developed and employs almost 250 people on a full- and part-time basis.

Organizations: Genesee Wyoming

Geographic location: Sydney Port, Lingan Road, Cape Breton U.S. Inverness Street Victoria Road Harbourside Commercial Park

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Recent comments

  • Brilliant
    November 27, 2013 - 14:00

    Dear Expropriate this Land...this is the most ridiculous post to date. Enough said.

  • Expropriate this Land
    November 20, 2013 - 12:03

    All Governments in Nova Scotia, including the Municipal Government, has the Legal authority to expropriate private land for Public use. This include farm land, forest land, homes, businesses Etc. Without this Law, the Trans Canada Highway would never be built. Thousands of acres have been expropriated by governments over the years. Council should expropriate this land, give the railway a fair market price ( a few thousand dollars) and complete the project. This is not rocket Science folks!

  • onlyoneawake
    November 17, 2013 - 20:09

    Forgive me, but I don't understand how they can already have the line running across SPAR Road now with no problems. Probably because there is NO RAIL TRAFFIC. How can the rail owners allow passage on one side of SPAR but not the other? I can't make any sense out of this. Can some intelligent person enlighten me?

  • Jason
    November 17, 2013 - 19:50

    If that was oil the government would take the lands.

  • joe smith
    November 17, 2013 - 18:36

    Mr Mayor having a American company making decisions about where we get to put roads in the CBRM is disgraceful get a pair sir.We can not tear up the tracks but council should get together and pass a motion to raise the taxes on this parcel of land to a insane amount to make these Americans come around on the issue.

  • Sysco
    November 15, 2013 - 16:29

    This cleanup project was spent mainly on making the site appear nice to the city and to tourists. The actual "cleanup" was just mixing the toxic waste with concrete powder. Maybe if they weren't so focused on the stupid park they could have done the project right.

  • Not Surprised Youth
    November 15, 2013 - 14:35

    O.k. So we obviously have some Valedictorians in control of our beautiful city. So, tell me how beautiful that gross, half paved, unfinished intersection is going to look attractive to tourists visiting the park. Oh, and explain the logic behind going forward with a project WITHOUT OBTAINING THE PROPER PERMITS. Ugh. Really makes me want to get into politics.

  • Lala
    November 15, 2013 - 13:32

    I agree with what OMG said. Only in Cape Breton would something like this happen. Get all the permits first before you start construction! It's not rocket science! Who on earth hires these people?!

  • Jim
    November 15, 2013 - 12:28

    Why are we pussy-footin' around with these guys ? The railway must pass over municipal, provincial or federal land somewhere along the line . Surely someone in power has the spine and authority to educate the Americans on the benefits of give and take !!

  • PIER DEAR
    November 15, 2013 - 10:39

    Talk about putting the cart before the horse.Someone should be fired for this waste of tax payers money.

  • John Mason
    November 15, 2013 - 09:22

    Are you serious? Fort and Joseph, you guys are extremely ill-informed. Your solution is tear up the railway and build the road? Brilliant. The concern should be for safety, full stop. Why would a road be built without approval first by all parties? And the railway company is being blamed? That is nuts...shame on the CBRM and shame on the Post for spinning this story. And since when did the province 'give away the railway'?? As far as I know, this was a CN line, never owned by the province?

  • David
    November 15, 2013 - 08:22

    Agree with you Bob...see what happens when you sell stuff to the americans and your right OMG all the proper paper work should have been in place before the project...ty

  • David
    November 15, 2013 - 08:20

    Agree with you Bob...see what happens when you sell stuff to the americans and your right OMG all the proper paper work should have been in place before the project...ty

  • caper
    November 15, 2013 - 08:16

    TO FORT MCMATT yes it does say 80 klms,, it means no faster ,, not that every must do 80klms ,, you drive to road conditions,, personally i drive 70 thru there ..and will continue to do so , as long as there men working there ,, if your in such a hurry,, that you would endanger the workers there,, try leaving home a few minutes earlier

    • newsflash
      November 15, 2013 - 17:56

      if there are men working there then that is why the speed limit is 80. Not 70. All you are doing is impeding traffic. If you are so worried about the workers then take Kings Rd.

  • Gary McLeod
    November 15, 2013 - 07:17

    You would think that NS Lands would have done due diligence and approached Cape Breton and Central Nova Scotia railway before ground was broken. If it was the other way round I'm sure that the NS gov department would be all over them.

  • Fort MacMatt
    November 15, 2013 - 06:28

    Foolishness, yet again! Screw the railway, build the road, just like other crossings, and get er done. The train very seldom actually takes that route, only to the coal piers is there regular traffic. And to " what is a speed limit for", your comment has nothing to do with the topic of this story. And on a side note, people drive way to slow on the 125. Construction or no construction, the speed limit is 80, do it! At no point does it slow to 50,60, or 70km/hr. If you can't handle speed limits, go drive on a Country road somewhere.

  • just bob
    November 15, 2013 - 00:49

    The provice of N.S. gives awaycape Bretons railroad for a song ,then the U.S company wants to charge homeowners below the line a 1500% raise to get home ,now their gonna milk the C.B.R.M. Don,t let it happen

  • Marshall
    November 14, 2013 - 23:27

    Anyone up to tear up their tracks, really people, this is stupid we are being ruled by America, time to stand up this and tell them to move it or we will move it for them.

  • john
    November 14, 2013 - 23:26

    looks like 2 idiots, 1 not having the RR's permission. The 2nd TEAR UP THE TRACKS and let the American company deal with it if they don't want to cooperate. Unbelievable anybody would make such a statement. Try your luck, the RR is holding all the cards. Seems they are not capable of doing the simplest tasks down there.

  • what is a speed limit for
    November 14, 2013 - 21:54

    on the topic of roads i was driving home tonight on the 125 and just where the speed limit turned 80 some a hole rode my arse and tried to pass on a solid line....what is wrong. have people here forgotten how to read signs and the rules of the road? this maniac could have killed all of us on the road...when the ahole reached a passing lane ahole blew by and proceeded to go about 140.

  • Joseph Sampson
    November 14, 2013 - 21:45

    Simple solution to this. TEAR UP THE TRACKS and let the american company deal with it if they dont' want to cooperate!!

  • OMG
    November 14, 2013 - 21:02

    Can you say IDIOTS?????? Someone needs to be fired here - who builds a road without securing ALL the necessary permits FIRST???? STUPIDITY reigns here in CBRM. Someone save us from the idiots, please....

    • Barry
      November 14, 2013 - 23:11

      I completely agree with you, OMG. I actually agree with the safety concern of the railroad. And, Joseph, the railroad OWNS the land the tracks are on. CBRM do not have the right to tear up the track. For CBRM to build a road, without FIRST seeking ALL necessary permits, truly is stupidity in it's highest form. I am literally laughing about this fiasco.