Cape Breton-Richmond MLA Alana Paon is concerned about the increasing safety issues and delays in major renovations at the Lennox Passage Bridge.
The bridge, which is the only connection from Isle Madame to the rest of Cape Breton Island, has been on the Provincial Capital Plan since 2012, but has never gone to tender. Paon, since being elected last year, has been pressuring Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Lloyd Hines to get the bridge fixed.
“I am concerned about the safety of constituents using the Lennox Passage Bridge, especially in light of the accidents that recently occurred on the bridge. I am also concerned about the bridge’s long-term viability, as it is the only means for island vehicular traffic to travel on and off of Isle Madame. I have been in discussions with the department since last summer, and continue to pressure Minister Hines as to the urgency of this long overdue rehabilitation project. I have recently received verbal reassurance from the department that the project design is complete and that the call for tender is forthcoming. I am urging Minister Hines to formally announce the project,” says Paon. “The longer the project is delayed, the more expense we incur as taxpayers to temporarily patch together long standing structural, mechanical and safety issues.”
Starting on January 10, 2018, the speed limit on the Lennox Passage Bridge was reduced to 20 km/h while the department studies damage to the bridge’s joints (photos attached.) Originally, signage was posted with orange flashing lights to warn motorists of the speed reduction. Recently, that signage was replaced with a semi-permanent sign that does not include flashing lights and can be difficult to see in fog or darkness.
Donna Cavanagh was travelling on the bridge on Friday, April 27, 2018 when she was rear-ended by another motorist.
Donna’s husband, Warren Cavanagh, wants to prevent future accidents from happening.
“I don’t know what the structure needs to be, I’m not a structure engineer, but I do know the signs are placed too late. They also need to enforce the speed limit. A non-enforceable speed limit of 20 km/h is not enough,” says Warren Cavanagh. “I can’t do anything for Donna’s injuries, but if I can prevent future injuries or fatalities, I’m willing to fight all the way.”
Paon spoke with department officials on May 1st to request an immediate review of the placement of signs and flashing lights associated with the sudden reduction in the posted speed limit.
“Safety on our roads should always be our top priority. Accident-preventing safety features should be in place right away to mitigate risk to motorists,” says Paon. “With increased pressure of provincial budgets not keeping pace with our aging infrastructure, local officials are struggling to stretch resources that do not meet our capital investment and maintenance requirements. I am calling on Minister Hines to formally announce that the Lennox Passage Bridge project will be tendered and completed in 2018-19. We need immediate action. The rehabilitation of the Lennox Passage Bridge is six years overdue.”
In the Legislature this spring, Paon also raised the issue of the new bridge design work not including a bathroom facility for the operator. She is hopeful that will be addressed in the latest design plans.