Family feels pinch as highway work moves ever closer

Sueann Musick
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Charity Visser and her father John stand front of highway construction work going on outside their home. The Vissers say the work is disrupting their lives and ruining the condition of the property they bought 40 years ago. Heather Brimicombe – The News

SUTHERLANDS RIVER – A local family surrounded by highway construction say things have gone from bad to worse.

Faye Visser said the Highway 104 twinning project moved so close to her home Friday that she only had a narrow path to get in and out of her driveway while her water has been contaminated and mail service has been disrupted.

“My nerves are shot from the noise and the (government’s) lack of caring,” she said. “This thing has ruined my life.”

The Visser home is located at the end of Highway 4 and is bordered on three sides by the current 104 Trans-Canada highway twinning that started two years ago in the area.

On Friday morning, excavators, a roller and dump trucks were working to remove the asphalt from Highway 4 and connect a new off ramp to Highway 4 which is located directly in front of the Vissers’ home. As of Friday afternoon, when highway crews stopped working for the long weekend, she said, there was a makeshift driveway in front of their home connecting them to the off-ramp.

“It’s not the guys on the highway doing the work,” she said. “They are trying to accommodate us best they can. We are upset the department of highways can abuse us like this.”

She said there is now a 12-foot drop to the highway in the back of their property that has no fencing and trees that once provided some shelter and privacy are dying. Visser said when the leaves fall off the trees this autumn their home will be surrounded by 21 street lights.

“I’ve had to take pictures off the walls because of the vibrations from all of the work being done around us,” she said. “The dust inside and outside of my house is unreal. They’ve ruined our property. The only people who would buy this five-bedroom house is a family and what family is going to purchase a home with a 12-foot drop in the backyard?”

She said mail service to the home has been disrupted because of the ongoing work and the government now has bottled water delivered to her home since a recent water test showed it has E. coli and coliform.

“They (the government) came down here last Friday and told us they weren’t going to take responsibility for the water, but they were going to have Canadian Springs deliver four large water bottles to us a week and put a filter on our pump.”

She added that she has been told by transportation workers that the roundabout was moved up 200 feet closer to her home than originally planned.

Visser said she has talked to transportation workers and local MLAs about the situation, but she feels of her concerns are falling on deaf ears. Visser said she wrote to Transportation Minister Bill Estabrooks asking for a meeting to discuss the situation, but he responded by saying the province would not be purchasing her home.

“I appreciate that having a highway construction project take place in the immediate vicinity of one’s property can be an annoyance and an inconvenience and I fully understand why someone in your situation might want government to purchase your property. I regret, however, that because this project is of limited duration and is taking place fully on property owned by the province, I am unable to justify such an expenditure of taxpayers’ dollars,” he stated in the letter.

Calls to Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal’s communications department were not returned by press time Friday.

Organizations: Highway 4

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  • Tammie
    September 06, 2011 - 11:08

    I guess governments are the same no matter where you live. They are only concerned about themselves while pretending to care for the taxpayers. If my parents aren't taxpayers after 50+ years of working and paying taxes I don't know who is. I am so disgusted, disappointed and tired of any government that treats their citizens this way. Enough is enough! This has gone WAY beyond a TEMPORARY inconvenience. We are now talking about health (both physical and mental) and safety which are long term issues, are they not?! It's the noise, it's the dirt, it's the sleepless nights due to the machinery, it's the stress, it's the safety. Speaking of safety, is it not illegal to stop on a ramp? How about stopping on a ramp to turn into a driveway that is on the ramp? Oh wait...according to the DOT it isn't a ramp...it's an an approachment to an overpass. Please! Stop playing with semantics, a ramp is a ramp is a ramp. Someone is going to be killed there. Like Melanie said in an earlier comment, NS gov't its time to put your big boy pants on, remove your heads from your behinds and finally do the right thing! While others would have given up by now, we are a tenacious family and we aren't going to stop fighting.

  • Gail MacLean
    September 04, 2011 - 13:14

    The ministry is not taking responsibility by pretending a concern for taxpayers' money. If this was happening to his home or anyone he knows, I'm sure it would be a different story. Perhaps a recording of the noise played on loudspeakers from morning till night every day might give him an idea of what the Vissers are going through

  • jill baker
    September 03, 2011 - 14:26

    What an absolute disgrace what this family is being put through! Remember when the NDP were in opposition all those years and screamed and hollered to do everything and give everything for all people and claimed to be the blue collar underdog champions? What did they do when they got the power? Raised every tax and user fee, slashed education and health care and justice program, became the most secretivive Gov't in history, broke absolutely EVERY promise (that is fact and non-disputable), gas prices and power rates soaring. A finance minister who doesn't know if he has 490 million in the red or the black one day to the next?, nor if higher taxes brings them any more money? Blamed it all on the Conservatives, even tho they spent that 500 million in the first 3 months they claimed they inherited buying land from big oil Irving and pre-mature university funding. Tens of thousands of jobs lost this year alone, devasted the forest industry and on and on and on. I hope everybody is happy with themselves, you were warned. "Here for today's families" Who is the real "scary secret hidden agenda" party? The NDP.

  • Mufy
    September 03, 2011 - 12:19

    Sounds like the government owes you a big apology... It sucks that you have to put up with these minor inconveniences while our province makes the highway safer. Let's disregard all the accidents that have happened on this road, and cancel construction so you won't be TEMPORARILY inconvenienced anymore. If the gov't has decided not to take responsibility for the poor water, but still chooses to provide you with 4 bottles a week and filters, it sounds to me like their "lack of caring" is anything but. Just stay with a friend or family member. Minor inconveniences happen, unfortunately this one -one that will directly result in safer roads and a lower number of ANNUAL fatal accidents- won't gain much sympathy from PC.

  • Kelly
    September 03, 2011 - 10:34

    This is unreal! The Visser's should not have to live through that, not to mention once the work is complete, all of the noise. The province should buy their property so they can move!

  • Melanie
    September 02, 2011 - 23:09

    Taxpayer's money???? They have both worked full time jobs in all the 41 years that they owned this property so aren't some of these " taxpayer's dollars " theirs? This whole issue is downright disgusting. I can not believe what my parents are going through. Their entire world has been turned upside down and the house and property that they have worked so hard to build, is worthless now. The serenity, enjoyment, and security that they built for themselves and all 4 of us children has now been stripped away. Even the water is contaminated!!!! The water used to be better than bottled water and now you can't even wash your hands in it. After spending a week at my parent's house this summer, my daughter developed a severe rash. After we returned home, we saw a doctor and found out that it was caused by their water. Even worse, my whole family and all of their pets have been poisoned by this water, which are now being treated by antibiotics. It's pretty bad when everything has to be taken off of the walls before they smash and break because of the construction. While this construction may only last a few more months, the long term affects on my family will last a lifetime. I hope the government puts their big boy pants on, pulls their head out of their behinds, and helps my family move on with their life! The government needs to stand up and take responsibility for what they have done!

  • Disgusted
    September 02, 2011 - 22:40

    Estabrooks says, "I am unable to justify such an expenditure of taxpayers’ dollars". Hello!!!!!!!....the Vissers are taxpaying citizens as well....but yet they are expected to live with sub-standard living conditions such as contaminated water and poor air quality? Much more than an annoyance and inconvenience. Shame on the government for expecting a family to live in these unhealthy conditions. Are they going to cover the Visser's medical bills when they all get sick? Oh right...Estabrooks probably won't be able to justify such an expenditure of taxpayers’ dollars. He wouldn't put with this and neither should the Visser's. Keep on fighting!

  • arthur sinclair
    September 02, 2011 - 19:36

    I have no doubt if this was happening in HRM Bill Estabrooks would be singing a different tune. With millions of dollars to put into a convention center which in all probably will be a money losing venture for all levels of government there should be funds set aside for unfortunate people like the Vissers. This is a disgrace and I am deeply dismayed by the calous attitude by this provincial government toward people such as the Vissers. Time for the three house members in this area to voice an opinion and come out to protect people who do not have the resources to help themselves. Three words for our three MLAs, shame, shame shame on you. Just likt the three monkeys . Hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil. The role of government I was always brought up to think was to protect the individual not to do them harm.