BROOKLYN, N.S. — West Hants councillors are hoping to have some traffic concerns addressed later this month when an employee with the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal visits council.
It’s a face-to-face meeting that Coun. David Keith has been wanting for some time.
Keith has raised community concerns surrounding the tricky intersection in Brooklyn near the Petro Canada gasoline station, and the truck traffic on Highway 14, several times since becoming a councillor. During West Hants’ last committee of the whole meeting of 2018, he requested council invite an official to come to the Jan. 22 meeting.
“The roundabout area of the Petro Canada in Brooklyn — accidents are becoming very, very common there,” said Keith.
“In West Hants/Windsor, we have over 900 students going to school at Avon View and in Brooklyn, we have over 800 coming there to go to school every morning and afternoons when they leave,” he continued. “There’s no crosswalks. It’s just like a racing track down through here.”
Keith said the amount of trucks now travelling along the back roads, avoiding the twinned Highway 101 and 102 routes, is increasing. That, he says, is another cause for concern.
“When they closed the Wentworth Trans Canada Highway, there were nine passing lanes on that road. There aren’t any on the 14. Sometimes they have 15 to 20 cars behind a log truck or one of these big trucks and they can’t pass them,” said Keith.
“The compliance officers talk about what they see — people pulling out and going like hell trying to pass these trucks. There’s going to be someone seriously injured,” he continued.
“These roads weren’t made for this type of traffic.”
After much discussion about the road conditions and what councillors have witnessed, they agreed they’d like to hear what the province is planning to do to rectify the safety concerns.
“I drive through that intersection very frequently by the Petro Can and it’s extremely dangerous. I make mistakes there,” said Coun. Rupert Jannasch.
“Part of the problem is that the view plains are just not quite right. With all the traffic that’s there, you often can’t really see who’s coming from what direction.”
The intersection in question, which connects Highway 14 and Highway 215 — two roads but three directions, is a busy one. A junior school and an elementary school, plus an arena and gas station are all located within walking distance of the intersection.
The intersection features free flow for most traffic with some motorists being required to stop and/or yield. To complicate the issue, a gas station parking lot offers motorists multiple entry and exit points.
Councillors at the meeting suggested finding a way to slow down the traffic and to make the intersection easier to navigate for drivers. They’d like to hear what, if anything, can be done to make it safer.
“Ultimately this is a Province of Nova Scotia issue. It’s their roads, it’s their highway design, it’s their traffic authority, it is their commercial vehicle compliance officers (checking trucks),” said Coun. Tanya Leopold, who also threw her support behind having a TIR representative attend the next meeting.
Most councillors indicated they either knew someone who was in an accident or nearly in an accident, or had first-hand knowledge.
“This road is over 100 years old so it was made for Model Ts. They didn’t make that road for this traffic. We’ve got to do something about this,” said Keith.
Volume of accidents not high
Staff Sgt. Cory Bushell, of the Windsor District RCMP, said they are aware of the concern as it has been brought up at the police advisory board level.
Bushell said the RCMP would be supportive of any measures that make travelling the roads safer, but said such changes would require research and studies.
“If, through some kind of analysis, the engineers and elected officials and police can help to better understand why things are happening the way they’re happening, that’ll give us the information to move forward in a positive way and achieve that preferred future for that intersection,” said Bushell.
“If there’s a safer way to build that intersection, certainly, as police, we would support that.”
Bushell pulled the statistics for Highway 14, Brooklyn, and said when compared to the total traffic collisions throughout the county, the number of accidents isn’t alarming.
In 2018, Windsor District RCMP responded to 249 traffic collisions, of which seven (three non-reportable and four reportable) were for Brooklyn’s Highway 14.
That same year saw 46 speeding tickets issued along Highway 14 in Brooklyn, 16 other moving tickets, and 10 other non-moving tickets. There were no fatal accidents there in 2018.
In 2017, Windsor District RCMP responded to more traffic collisions, a total of 274, of which 11 (three non-reportable and eight reportable) were for Brooklyn’s Highway 14.
The amount of speeding tickets and other tickets for that area was also higher, with 86 speeding tickets being issued, 17 other moving tickets and 14 other non-moving tickets. There were also no fatal accidents reported for that stretch of highway in 2017.
“With respect to the statistics, some of them can seem alarming but when you look at the totality of the numbers in context to other areas, it does not appear to be a problem area, per se,” said Bushell, noting that other factors, such as time of day, severity, and type of incident are also taken into account.
“If we look at strictly the number of crashes there versus the number of crashes in the totality of the district, it’s not an alarming amount of crashes that are happening — based solely on that.”
It’s anticipated a representative from TIR will be in attendance of council’s first committee of the whole meeting of 2019 on Jan. 22. The meeting starts at 6 p.m.