‘Pass’ is not just a clever name

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With the possibility of the first big winter storm of the season in the forecast for Sunday, we have a good reminder of a perennial headache in the province. Bad weather often raises the question of the odds of the Cobequid Pass being passable.

The leader of the province’s opposition wants to see that the issue gets immediate attention.

Jamie Baillie brought the matter up in Question Period in the legislature Thursday, seeking commitment from the transportation minister to review the amount of equipment available to clear snow.

The Conservative leader raises a good point. This is a portion of the Trans-Canada Highway, after all. Keeping the route open is vital to people in the area, of course, but also as the central means of getting through the province. Shutting down the main thoroughfare whenever questionable weather hits can’t be the default position. Some can change their travel plans, while some, including commercial traffic, can’t necessarily. And they certainly can’t be expected to at a moment’s notice.

Particularly since the night from hell five years back when motorists were stuck overnight on the highway due to severe weather, this stretch has become the stuff of legend. And that happened in November, when most aren’t expecting sudden snowy blasts.

That tends to suggest we’re dealing with a spot that specializes in the unpredictable.

The province has acknowledged this to a large extent. The area is among locations in the province monitored by highway cameras, allowing the public to get a glimpse of current conditions.

In addressing the issue in the legislature, Baillie noted that the pass has been closed twice, even though we’re not even mid-way through December.

The road crews do a great job – as long as they’re out in sufficient numbers. If this is a budgetary thing – not having sufficient personnel and equipment set to go early enough, or packing things away too soon in the spring – we have enough of a case study proving that unwise.

Organizations: Trans-Canada Highway

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