Crumbling part of Highway 203 to be replaced with gravel

A crumbling portion of the paved Highway 203 in Yarmouth County will be replaced with gravel.

Work to start this summer on 30-kilometre portion between Upper Ohio and Kemptville

A crumbling portion of the paved Highway 203 in Yarmouth County will be replaced with gravel.

Nova Scotia will begin working on a 30-kilometre portion of the highway between Upper Ohio and Kemptville by early summer, but it will be a "multi-year approach."

"We try to prioritize the work that we have to do so that we're spending our money where we're sort of benefiting the most people," said Bruce Fitzner, the province's chief highway engineer.

At a cost of about $10 million, the province said it's too expensive to pave that section of Highway 203 when gravel costs a third of that figure and not many people drive the route regularly.

Charles Leary, one of the owners of Trout Point Lodge in East Kemptville, said deep ditches and worn out road paint have caused unsafe driving conditions along that portion of the highway for years.

"There are extensive areas where the side of the road has totally disintegrated and is in chunks," he said.

"We're happy to see any movement on this issue but obviously we would rather see it repaved."

Leary said he has been writing letters of concern to the province for at least five years.

"I don't think it's a good sign of progress — Nova Scotia turning paved roads back into gravel roads," he said.

Highway 203 is supposed to be the easiest way for people to visit Trout Point Lodge, but Leary said in the past couple of years the road has become so bad some tourists have been encouraged to go an alternate route, making the trip to the lodge twice as long.

"It is certainly discouraging to potential repeat customers," he said.

Fitzner said the province is waiting until June or July before it starts investigating the road conditions further to see if it will tear up the current road or place gravel on top — the long-term surface treatment for that portion of the highway is yet to be determined.

While the process will begin this summer, it could take years before businesses like Trout Point Lodge have a reliable road again.