Calls for review of snow clearing operations
In light of a pair of closures, Jamie Baillie wants the province to review plowing on the Cobequid Pass.
Jaime Baillie, Cumberland South MLA and PC leader, wants the province to review the level of snow clearing operations on the Cobequid Pass. This comes after two incidents where the highway was closed during snow events.
HALIFAX – Cumberland South MLA Jamie Baillie is concerned with recent closures to the Cobequid Pass.
During Question Period on Thursday, the PC leader asked Transportation Minister Geoff MacLellan to review the amount of snow clearing equipment available to clear the pass and alternate routes through the Wentworth Valley.
“This highway is a vital link, keeping Cumberland County connected to the rest of Nova Scotia,” Baillie told the Amherst News. “Cumberland County families and businesses deserve to know there is an adequate plan to protect the travelling public and keep the Pass safely open in winter.”
The east and westbound lanes of the 44-kilometre highway were closed for several hours earlier this month when a sudden snowfall caused transport trucks to become stuck in both lanes near the toll plaza.
Some motorists spent more than seven hours stuck in their vehicles waiting for the highway to be reopened.
The eastbound section of highway was closed at Exit 7 earlier this week when a transport truck jack-knifed on the road, again diverting traffic through the Wentworth Valley.
Baillie said it’s only the second week in December and the highway has already been closed twice. He called on the Liberal government to ensure the highway stays open in the winter and that motorists can travel safely.
The Cumberland South MLA said Cumberland County residents need to know how the department intends to keep the highway open through the winter.
“The province has a responsibility to provide sufficient road clearing equipment and to ensure that equipment is in the right place to maintain this critical link in the wintertime,” said Baillie. “I will continue to pressure the minister to make sure Cumberland County stays safely connected.”
One of things Baillie feels will improve the situation is relocating a pair of plows from Londonderry to Oxford, where they were located until last year.
“When the highway was first opened those plows were located in Oxford because it’s right on the highway and it’s closer to get to the pass. Nothing against Londonderry, but it’s further from the pass and takes plows longer to get there,” Baillie said. “We want to make sure equipment is located in the proper places to keep the pass safe and open.”
He also doesn’t want to see equipment diverted to the pass from elsewhere in Cumberland County.
MacLellan said his department is always looking to improve its policies and procedures, and he has no problem with taking another look at the situation on the highway.
“We do our very best to make sure our roads are the safest for Nova Scotians and we’ll endeavour to put in place any policies or measures that will improve safety and provide mobility in the winter months,” MacLellan said. “I would never say it’s a bad idea for a review and we’ll talk to the regional managers and local officials who do a great job fighting the elements. That’s a fair activity of government to get out and talk to the people on the ground and ask them if there are any changes they think are needed. If we can implement changes to make the Cobequid Pass even safer we’ll do it.”