Rural Nova Scotia road in such bad shape it could delay gold mine work

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Rural Nova Scotia road in such bad shape it could delay gold mine work

The crumbling main road through the Nova Scotia community of Moose River Gold Mines is so potholed it routinely damages the vehicles of local residents and may even halt work at the area's large new mine.

Residents and the mine operator, Atlantic Gold Corp., are urging the province to repave Moose River Road. Immediately. 

"We are worried we may soon see problems with transport companies actually coming here," said John Thomas, vice-president of projects at Atlantic Gold. "So far there has been no refusal to drive the road, but I think it could come to that."

More than 100 employees have been working for several months getting the mine ready for production, which is expected to begin in September. The number of employees would double at that point.

Atlantic Gold estimates it will extract a million ounces of gold, worth more than $1 billion.

If truck drivers refuse to drive the road, work might have to stop.

"The road is a really big concern of ours and I just hope that something can be done about it," said Thomas.

For years the 15-kilometre section of Moose River Road that runs from Elmsvale to the mine entrance has been in rough shape. But with months of heavy truck traffic the road is now in deplorable condition.

Despite the massive potholes and crumbling pavement, there is no plan to repave it.

"At this moment we do not have any funding for additional paving work," said Guy Deveau, Halifax East area manager with Nova Scotia's Department of Transportation. "We do have plans to do some repairs to the road."

Deveau admits drivers need to use caution on the road. He also said clearing snow from it has been an issue due to the condition of the pavement.

People who drive the Moose River Road on a regular basis are seeing their vehicles break down.

"I had a bent rim and a flat tire," said Alicia Cunningham, a home-care worker who recently hit a big pothole. "Because of the depth of the hole I have a cracked bumper as well."

Repairs to her vehicle cost $1,100 and she is trying to get the Department of Transportation to pay the bill.

People who live in Moose River and nearby Mooseland say the state of the road is a major safety concern and worry it will delay first responders in the case of an emergency.

"If an ambulance had to come from our closest hospital, which is in Middle Musquodoboit, it would take three times longer to get here than it would from Sheet Harbour, which is 40 kilometres away," said Ron Hill, a Mooseland resident who is legally blind and cannot drive.

The Halifax regional councillor for the area, Steve Streatch, who is from Musquodoboit Valley, is pushing hard to get the Liberal government to pave the road.

"We need some help and we need some attention from the provincial government," said Streatch. "The local community here has been very clear they are not satisfied with the repairs that have been suggested and we need a complete remake of the Moose River Road."