Nova Scotia

Section of Cabot Trail remains closed days after washout from winter storm

For the second time in recent months, a section of the Cabot Trail has been made impassable by washouts, sending travellers on an hours-long detour.

The only detour is a 4-hour loop around the Cabot Trail

A Parks Canada spokesperson says the damage may not look dramatic, but some asphalt is being held together only by ice. (Parks Canada)

For the second time in recent months, a section of the Cabot Trail has been made impassable by washouts, sending travellers on an hours-long detour.

On Friday, in the midst of a winter storm, the side of North Mountain began to erode and water started flowing across a section of road on North Mountain in the Cape Breton Highlands National Park.

Parks Canada closed the road to vehicles, which leaves travellers one detour option: a journey around the Cabot Trail that takes about four hours.

As of Monday afternoon, barricades remain up at the park entrances in Pleasant Bay and Big Interval.

An engineer was assessing the damage Monday. (Parks Canada)

"We are concerned about the residents. We know it separates communities, it separates families, it's like the socio-economic lifeline to northern Cape Breton," said Robie Gourd, Parks Canada's asset manager for the Cape Breton field unit.

"We do understand and we feel sympathy and empathy for the people that are disrupted by this outage. But I just want to reassure everybody that we're working just as swiftly and safely as we can to get this road open."

On Monday afternoon, Gourd said it was too early to tell how long it might take to reopen the road. Crews were on site throughout the weekend moving debris — much of which was frozen — and an engineer was assessing the damage on Monday.

A washout on another stretch of the Cabot Trail closed the road for nearly three weeks last fall.

Gourd said the latest washout may not look as dramatic as the last one, but that doesn't mean it's less serious.

The November washout between Ingonish and Neils Harbour created a major crater.

Part of a road was washed away at Warren Brook in the Cape Breton Highlands National Park during a wind and rainstorm in November. (Steve Lawrence/CBC)

In the new case, Gourd said the asphalt looks intact from a bird's-eye view, but some of it is being held together by ice.

"It actually has no stability," said Gourd.

The full extent of the damage is being determined.

Gourd said despite the recurring washouts, they are still atypical events. He said any time a section of the Cabot Trail is being upgraded for any reason, larger culverts are installed to accommodate more thaw and precipitation and avoid the kind of damage seen lately.


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