Road remains in ruins

Residents want Lower Maccan Road repaved

Darrell Cole
Published on April 5, 2010
Dara Bourgeois stands in one of several washouts along the Lower Maccan Road. Bourgeois and his neighbours are growing frustrated with inaction by the Department of Transportation. They want the road repaved instead of patched, adding it has been 35 years since the road was last paved.

LOWER MACCAN - Dara Bourgeois is tired of sounding like a broken record.

Bourgeois has been attempting for years to get the province to fix the 16-kilometre Lower Maccan Road and is growing increasingly impatient as each year goes by without any attention.

"This road is past the state of being in bad shape, now it's getting to the point that it's dangerous," said Bourgeois, showing photos of the road that show heaves, dips, potholes and washouts to the shoulder. "If you were unfamiliar with this road and drove off to the shoulder you'd be taking your life into your own hands."

The road that runs from Maccan on one end to Strathcona on the other was the scene of a repair job last spring when flooding washed out a culvert part of the way around the loop. While government fixed the washout that cut the road in half, nothing was done about the road's poor condition.

Last year, when the province was repaving Highway 242 from Maccan to Joggins Bourgeois lobbied unsuccessfully for paving crews to go off that road and onto the Lower Maccan Road.

At the time, then provincial cabinet minister Murray Scott said it would take several million dollars to repave the Lower Maccan Road and pointed out government could not change a tender midway through a project.

Bourgeois is again lobbying government to do something to fix the road. In February, he wrote Transportation Minister Bill Estabrooks saying nothing has been done to fix the road since it was last paved in 1975 or 1976.

"With a major tourist attraction at our backdoor, this could be another record year for tourists is our area. What worries me most is the negative impression we are giving people that take the scenic route back from Joggins to Amherst," said Bourgeois in his letter to the minister.

Bourgeois has asked the minister to come to Lower Maccan and see the road for himself and is disappointed that it was the area manager, Buffy White, who replied to his letter and not Estabrooks.

In her letter, White said the Lower Maccan Road is one of many across Cumberland County in similar condition. She said the road has been prioritized based on condition, traffic volumes and other considerations for repaving. However, she added, not funding has been confirmed for paving work.

The road, she added, will receive limited asphalt patching, shoulder and guardrail work this summer through the RIM program.

Bourgeois said the department doesn't understand that maintenance is not the anwer.

"The road is over 35 years old and is simply worn out. It's way past the period of patch work," he said. "The way things are going the road will be impassable in two years."