A familiar sign is back in Barney’s River.
“It’s mainly a reminder to everyone to drive safe until this road gets twinned,” said Barney’s River Fire Department chief, Joe MacDonald who, along with a small crew of volunteers, was up early on June 15 to raise the “Twinned Highways Save Lives” banner in front of the fire station.
The banner, which MacDonald first raised in 2016, had to be taken down last Fall as the station’s wooden siding was being replaced with vinyl.
“The banner that everyone will recognize at the fire department is something that I think will take on new meaning, knowing that construction is just around the corner,” said Central Nova MP Sean Fraser who was among the volunteers helping MacDonald raise the banner.
"Anyone who lives here knows that every year we’ve got fatal accidents on this stretch of highway,” Fraser told The News.
Every day approximately 15,000 vehicles, including 2,500 trucks, travel this dangerous 38 kilometre stretch of highway. Between 2009 and July 2018, when it was first announced that the highway would be twinned, there were more than 400 accidents, including 16 fatalities.
A twinned highway will also improve traffic flow in a main corridor between Newfoundland, Cape Breton and mainland Nova Scotia.
Last summer MacDonald was with Fraser, Premier Stephen McNeil and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau during the announcement of $90 million in federal funding for the twinning project. The money comes from the National Trade-Corridors Fund (NTCF) which helps pay for infrastructure projects designed to improve the flow of goods and people in Canada.
The project, which is slated to finish in 2024, is also expected to create 500 jobs in the area.
For MacDonald, it’s safety first, and he told The News that highway twinning won’t stop all accidents, but it will certainly stop the worst of them.
“There have been accidents, and there will continue to be accidents even after the twinning,” he said. “But there won’t be head-on collisions. That’s what we’re trying to prevent.”