ROCKY MOUNTAIN, N.S. – Think the potholes are bad in your part of Pictou County?
Take a drive down Highway 347 and see how you like it – aside from a couple of brief sections of smooth highway, the road that leads from Exit 26 of the Trans-Canada Highway all the way to the Guysborough County line is littered with potholes, scraped tops, and missing shoulders of pavement.
“Everybody is just fed up,” says Garden of Eden resident Blaine Yerxa.
“It’s damaging our cars and costing us money to drive on the road. And when you look at the (Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal) website, it shows what roads will be paved in the next five years, and there’s nothing there that says they will start paving sections of this highway. The 347 is not mentioned.”
A group of area residents has collected hundreds of signatures over the past couple of weeks – they expect to get as many as 1,000 names – which they will present to the province with the hope of getting some attention.
In Garden of Eden, a section of the highway that fronts Eden Lake was paved about 10 years ago, a brief respite in this car-bashing, bone-rattling stretch of pavement.
“That was when the NDP was in power,” Yerxa says.
When the Liberals won the 2013 election to seize power from the New Democrats, the NDP lost all three Pictou County seats, which are now held by Progressive Conservatives.
“The government changed and there was no more done,” Yerxa adds.
“But that’s probably the bottom line – it is politics.”
According to Yerxa, the 347 gets better once you get into Guysborough County, having been paved a few years ago.
That area is the home of the provincial riding of Guysborough-Eastern Shore-Tracadie, where sits MLA Lloyd Hines, who happens to be the Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal for the governing Liberals (he didn’t assume that portfolio until 2017).
Hines did not immediately return phones messages seeking comment.
Andy Thomson is the Pictou County councillor for District 11, part of which encompasses Highway 347 to the Guysborough line. While the highway is a provincial responsibility, Thomson has been getting a lot of phone calls from constituents about the highway.
“It’s a horrible road. I’ve got a lot of them in my district, but that’s probably the worst one,” says Thompson, who advises residents to reach out to Pictou East MLA Tim Houston.
When reached by telephone on April 16, Houston said the 347 “is in very rough shape. It’s definitely one that’s causing real problems for residents. It’s a safety issue,” and an issue for people incurring damage to their vehicles, he added.
“There’s others, but it’s definitely the worst (in Pictou East). This is one that should be on the five-year plan.”