Friday, June 13, 2014 Link To Herald The Halifax Herald Limited

Nameless road could have future

By Tom Ayers

SYDNEY - There is at least one stretch of road in Cape Breton Regional Municipality that is free of potholes. It's also free of cars and traffic of any kind. It is the nameless road to nowhere, built for about $4.5 million by the Sydney Tar Ponds Agency, and currently owned by Nova Scotia Lands Inc. The two-lane pavement starts at Victoria Road, next to the Salvation Army's thrift store across from Inverness Street, and runs through the former coke ovens site toward the intersection of Lingan Road and Sydney Port Access Road, where it ends abruptly at a concrete barrier before the railway tracks.

Gary Campbell, president of Nova Scotia Lands Inc., said that after working with the Cape Breton and Central Nova Scotia Railway to extend the road across the tracks, the rail company denied permission for the crossing. "We had our consultants working with them building the road, and when it was almost complete, they came through the door and said no, they didn't like the linkage over their track onto the SPAR Road, so we had to throw up the Jersey barrier and go back at negotiating." (People commonly call Sydney Port Access Road SPAR Road, and even the municipality has put up road signs saying SPAR Road.)

Campbell said the provincial agency is still negotiating with the rail company and Transport Canada. There were several issues with the crossing, such as lights and traffic arms, that should be easy to resolve, he said. Meanwhile, the railway announced this week it plans to abandon the section of track from St. Peters Junction, just outside Port Hawkesbury, to Sydney.

According to a subsidy agreement with the province, the railway has to maintain the tracks until September. At that point, the company has said it intends to file an application with the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board to abandon the line. Campbell said he hasn't officially heard from the railway about its plans, but he said if it abandons the line, it might be easier to get permission for the crossing. He said the road was built at the request of the municipality to open the remediated coke ovens site to future development.

Nova Scotia Lands is doing some work at the intersection of SPAR and Lingan roads, adding a turning lane to relieve some of the traffic that can back up on SPAR Road when a driver wants to turn onto Lingan. However, said Campbell, the work is unrelated to the nameless road, which has been built to municipal specifications and will be handed over to the municipality when it is finished.

The $400-million tar ponds cleanup has wrapped up and there is no money left over for the road, said Campbell, so the agency would be on the hook to finish it. "It's probably a hundred thousand (dollars) or a little better to finish the paving ... and if the railway is still there, then we're going to have to do special lighting and the arms and gates," he said. "If the railway is abandoned, then it makes it much simpler." The road has an unofficial name, he said, but it is up to the municipality to provide the official name. "We refer to it as the Lingan Road Extension," said Campbell. "That's just kind of what we've nicknamed it."

Municipal planner Rick McCready said the road hasn't been named yet because it is not open.