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Cape Breton roundabout projects delayed

A roundabout is being constructed in Port Hastings, N.S., for drivers entering Cape Breton via the Canso Causeway, above. (Robert Short/CBC - image credit)
A roundabout is being constructed in Port Hastings, N.S., for drivers entering Cape Breton via the Canso Causeway, above. (Robert Short/CBC - image credit)

Construction was expected to wrap this year on a Port Hastings, N.S., roundabout that will welcome drivers to Cape Breton from the Canso Causeway, but the project has been delayed while engineers rework the design to ease local concerns.

"We've changed things a little bit from the original idea and we've added some scope which will address some local concerns," said Keith Boddy, senior highway design engineer with the Nova Scotia Department of Public Works.

"Safety has been an issue. You know, turning in and out of driveways and accesses in Port Hastings is quite challenging."

Public Works officials are hopeful the new modern roundabout will reduce congestion and lead to fewer accidents. Boddy said residents have said they're concerned by the high number of fender-benders that occur at the existing rotary.

One of the biggest safety concerns is whether drivers can safely merge into the roundabout from Port Hawkesbury and the Ceilidh Trail. Because of those ongoing concerns, Boddy said the province is redrawing the roundabout's design. It's unclear how much the extra work will cost.

"Honestly, you don't want to rush into things... This is the entry to Cape Breton, after all. We want to make sure that it's as correct as it can be."

Nic Meloney/CBC
Nic Meloney/CBC

Boddy said the Port Hastings roundabout's design is 70 to 80 per cent complete and was to be presented to the public at a meeting Monday evening at the Port Hastings fire hall.

Rodney Diggdon, who operates a trucking company in Arichat, said he would prefer to see the rotary stay the way it is.

Diggdon travels through Port Hastings four to five times a week but hasn't witnessed many accidents in the area.

He said that taxpayer dollars could be better spent paving potholes or improving lightning.

"That's some of the issues that some of my drivers have — It's the roads that they're driving on. It's hard on equipment. They'll either bust tires or springs or whatever. The only time there is an issue is pretty well when there's a boat going through [the Canso Canal] and that you're not going to change even if you put in a roundabout."

Two other roundabout projects planned for Cape Breton have also been delayed.

A tender for construction at the Kenwood Drive intersection on Kings Road in Sydney has been awarded to RDL Constuction Ltd., with some preliminary work expected to begin this fall and be completed next summer, said Boddy.

After that, a second roundabout in Sydney will be built on Kings Road at its intersection with Keltic Drive. A tender for that project has not yet been awarded.

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