Electronic billboards on Highway 104 that could’ve given motorists advance warning that a section of the Cobequid Pass was shut down during Tuesday’s storm, was out of order.
That resulted in numerous motorists being stranded on the highway for several hours Tuesday evening.
The sign was still out of order during Friday’s snowstorm and for Colchester County Councillor that situation is simply unacceptable
“People drove into the storm not aware that the road was blocked on one side and just barely passable on the other, with no advance warning,” Taggart told the Truro News. “The bottom line is people were stuck up there unaware. And that’s what the sign was put up for.
A spokesperson for the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal said the highway billboards are experiencing “technical difficulties” and “we hope to have the issues resolved as soon as possible.”
But Marla MacInnis also suggested that motorists are responsible for checking highway conditions before they head out on the roads.
“During a storm, if you have a choice, stay off the roads,” she said, in an emailed response. “Otherwise, allow extra time and slow down.”
If motorists need to travel, she said, they can plan their best route by checking the department’s highway cameras and tracking plows online at: https://511.novascotia.ca/en/index.html.
“We also post updates about road conditions to Twitter, @NS_TIR,” she said.
There have been several incidents in recent years where motorists have been stranded on the toll-section portion of the Pass for as much as 24 hours during heavy snow storms.
“I do believe that it is something that shouldn’t happen again,” Taggart said.
After receiving telephone calls from constituents complaining about the lack of notice on Tuesday, he brought the issue to county council committee Thursday night. That prompted a motion to have staff write a letter to the department requesting an explanation for why the signs weren’t working.
While Taggart agreed that motorists do have a responsibility to check road conditions, that does not alleviate the department of its responsibility to do everything it can. When he turned off Highway 104 onto Trunk 2 at about 9:30 p.m. the road was bare and wet. But approximately 10 km further along on Highway 104, traffic had come to a standstill, although there was no indication of that at the Masstown exit.
“It was mess,” he said. “What happens is, people go off the road, trucks get spinning and then they go sideways and everything backs up and nobody can get through to open it up. The idea of putting those signs up there was so that wouldn’t happen.”
Regardless of the information that was available on social media or by accessing the highway cameras, Taggart said the department should have been aware of the situation and should have had some physical way of notifying oncoming motorists that the road was closed before they got to the Pass.
“I do know somebody is responsible and it is not the general public,” he said.