The Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal says it is aiming to have work completed on a new stretch of Highway 101 in Digby County by the end of summer.
“The project is estimated to cost between $23 and $24 million and is scheduled to be complete by the end of August,” department spokesperson Marla MacInnis said in a recent email. That cost includes the roundabout at Exit 26 that is part of the project.
The highway project involves construction of a new section of controlled access 100-series highway between Marshalltown and Digby/Conway. This four-kilometre stretch of highway is being called a first-phase in the eventual completion of the highway between Weymouth and Digby, although no timeframe has been announced for future phases.
For residents who live along what is referred to as Highway 101, but is actually Trunk 1, the eventual completion of Highway 101 sometime down the road can’t come soon enough.
“Many of us are here tonight because we live between Weymouth and Marshalltown, along a highway that has over 300 driveways coming into it, about seven major villages,” said Barton resident Tom Haynes-Paton during a recent public meeting to talk about the roundabout. He said there have been deaths and accidents and while the speed limits on this part of “Highway 101” are 80 and 90 kms/h, vehicles travel much faster than that – exceeding speeds of well over 100 kilometres an hour despite this being a residential area.
He said people drive this section of road just as if they were on the controlled-access part of the highway.
“Yes, you are doing 90 but you could always do 110,” he said, saying the delay in completing this section of highway has “created an atmosphere of absolute chaos through our villages.”
While the discussion about the concerns over this stretch of “highway” was off topic from the meeting, people still felt it important to voice their concerns.
Another concern that was raised related to how the section of new highway will blend in with the existing Trunk 1.
Members of the public were told as people will be leaving that section of new highway there is a series of curves that will slow motorists down from 100 km/h to 80 km/h. The 100-km/h speed-limit section of the highway will end 500 metres from where the new highway and the old road meet.
Initially it had been stated by the province that the new section of highway would be completed in the fall of 2018. That didn’t happen due to weather, but also due to another issue people were told at the meeting.
“The eastern pewee, it’s a rare bird, and it shut down the project for many months because we had to wait for the migration to come through,” said Tony Harvey, an area manager with Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal. “We weren’t even allowed to cut any of the forested part mechanically, it had to be cut by hand. That delayed us several months and once we missed the opportunity to finish and winter came, that’s why we ended up in 2019 for the completion.”
If the highway work is not completed by the end of August, the transportation department says there will be no construction work happening during Wharf Rat Rally weekend that will interfere with that traffic flow.