Cabot Trail to see lots of road construction this summer

Tourists may find that getting around the Cabot Trail this summer will take more time than usual, as Parks Canada moves into the second year of upgrading roads, bridges and culverts.

Projects include bridge replacements and paving

There will be 10 road construction projects on the Cabot Trail this season. (novascotia.com)

Tourism operators in Cape Breton are eyeing a good season this year due to the so-called Trump bump and the interest prompted by the cheeky website encouraging Americans to flock to the island.

But those visitors may find that getting around the Cabot Trail this summer will take more time than usual.

Parks Canada is in the second year of a five-year plan to upgrade infrastructure, including roads, bridges and culverts in Cape Breton Highlands National Park,

Kelly Deveaux, the department's visitor experience manager for the park, says there will be 10 construction projects on the Cabot Trail this summer.

"That's going to impact both residents and visitors who are touring the Cabot Trail," she warned.

"We have a number of strategies in place to try to decrease the wait times, but when you look at the volume and the number of projects all taking place in the same season, wait times and delays are definitely going to be top of the list for impacts."

View an interactive map with the locations of the road work.

Be prepared to stop

The projects include replacing bridges over Neils Brook, Black Brook, Warren Brook, Clyburn Brook and North Aspy River.

"In some of those areas, we're actually able to maintain two-lane traffic so in a lot of those sections, it'll be a decrease in your speed," Deveaux said. "But there's other areas where we will be reduced to one lane."

Those areas are where culverts will be replaced — on French Mountain and at La Grande Falaise, near Chéticamp.

There will be a paving project from French Mountain to MacKenzie Mountain. That's likely to occasionally bring traffic to a standstill.

The big job of stabilizing rock at various locations around the trail will also be undertaken this summer.

Since January, realignment work has been underway on the Cabot Trail at Corney Brook.

An early start

Deveaux said the mild winter allowed work on some projects to get underway early, which means less construction during the peak tourism season this summer.

The work will carry on through October and possibly into November, she said. Parks Canada is holding three public information sessions this week, in Chéticamp, New Haven and Pleasant Bay.

Parks Canada would like to see tourism operators at the sessions, and will hand out materials that can be taken back and shared with guests.

"(It's) just to spread the word about the construction projects and the delays and to better help our visitors plan as they're travelling the Cabot Trail this summer."