Nova Scotia

Stretch of Cabot Trail to reopen in 1-2 weeks, says Parks Canada

Parks Canada expects it will take one to two weeks to get the Cabot Trail section between Ingonish and Neils Harbour, N.S., reopened.

'We've got crews there starting to put the pipe and gravel in place to affect that repair,' says official

Parts of the Cabot Trail, a 298-kilometre highway loop in northern Cape Breton, are closed because of Tuesday's heavy rainfall and wind storm. (Eric Woolliscroft/CBC)

Parks Canada expects it will take one to two weeks to get the Cabot Trail section between Ingonish and Neils Harbour, N.S., reopened.

Many people who live and work in northern Cape Breton must now take a three-hour detour through Chéticamp because part of the two-lane highway is washed out between the two communities.

"That section of highway is underway right now, we've got crews there starting to put the pipe and gravel in place to affect that repair," Robie Gourd, a project engineer with Parks Canada, told CBC's Information Morning Cape Breton.

"In some cases, we have new water courses, so where water would have typically gone, we have water now finding new paths under roads and in through culverts.

"Any water at this point could reactivate some of the culverts and sinkholes that we have. And we just want to make sure and stress that this road is not very stable."

A SUV drives through a water-soaked section of the Cabot Trail near Cape Smokey mountain on Nov. 29, 2021. (Matthew Moore/CBC)

Two other sections of roadway in need of repair are in the Black Brook area, where water runoff from nearby culverts started to undermine the highway.

Members of a northern Cape Breton fishing community have stepped up to help both health-care workers and teachers by moving them by boat.

Osborne Burke is the general manager of Victoria Co-operative Fisheries, which offered to pay fuel and expenses for the volunteers who are donating their vessels and their time.

Burke said he wants governments to implement fixes for the long-term.

"The clock is ticking," he told CBC's Information Morning Cape Breton. "We're having these events, not once every 10 years or once every 50 years, they're happening every four or five years."

Last week's storm washed away five provincial bridges and damaged 16 others.

Repair bill is $7M and growing

Premier Tim Houston has said the cost of repairs is already at least $7 million.

Three roadways remain impassable in Cape Breton and more than a dozen people are still stranded in their homes. 

But more heavy rain is expected overnight, with another 30 to 50 millimetres predicted to fall on the island and in Antigonish and Guysborough counties.

"It is a bit scary," Jamie Chisholm, district director for the eastern zone with Nova Scotia Public Works, told CBC's Information Morning Cape Breton.

"We're certainly going to be out there monitoring. We know there are areas that we suspect there could be issues, just where we have some of our culverts and things that are compromised now."

Fishing boats were used to transport health-care workers to the Buchanan Memorial hospital after a road closure between Ingonish and Neils Harbour, N.S. (Matthew Moore/CBC)

Chisholm said that some of the progress made in repairing damage is that access has been restored to the community of White Point in Victoria County.

But there is still no way of driving along sections of the Rear Barachois Road, Oregon Road and at Gold Brook bridge in Middle River.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Erin Pottie

Reporter

Erin Pottie is a CBC reporter based in Sydney. She has been covering local news in Cape Breton for 15 years. Story ideas welcome at erin.pottie@cbc.ca.

With files from CBC's Information Morning Cape Breton

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