Weather hampering dirt road repair

Carla Allen
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It’s that time of year again. Many dirt roads become almost impassable until the spring frost leaves and road crews can effectively grade the surface.

 The roller coaster climate of southwestern Nova Scotia is particularly hard for those who must travel dirt roads.

Potholes rattle the suspension. Ruts, gullies and mucky sections threaten to bog down your vehicle. In some cases they do and rescue in the form of a backhoe or tractor is required.

Today, the Tri-County Regional School Board announced that buses would not be travelling on the Ellis Road or Cleveland Road until there was improvement.

Traffic and Infrastructure Renewal (Yarmouth) operations supervisor Don Houston says crews are monitoring roads daily and when conditions allow, are grading to take the tops off ridges.

“In order to do wholesale grading we have to wait until the frost comes out,” he said. In addition to the Ellis and Cleveland roads, Robert’s Island and Lake George roads are a concern.

Road crews shouldn’t be blamed for the situation. They’re doing their best to keep roads in drivable condition while contending with one of the most powerful forces on earth: Mother Nature.

During the winter, excess water becomes trapped in the roadway. Vegetation that normally pulls groundwater away from the road is dormant. As the road thaws from top to bottom, the water becomes trapped between the road and frozen layers beneath. Meanwhile, vehicles weighing several tons each are driving across the surface, mashing the melted mud into ridges and ruts.

In addition to passenger cars, heavier vehicles can multiply the damage tenfold.

Houston says 95 per cent of large trailer truck drivers are responsible when it comes to driving on soft roads.

“But it only takes one or two going through a soft spot to really wreck up the road,” he said.

Spring weight restrictions come into effect in Yarmouth, Digby and Shelburne counties at 12:01 a.m., Monday, March 3 and remain in effect to Monday, May 5.  

The maximum gross vehicle weight allowed is 12,000 kg for single drive school and passenger buses.

Exemptions include public utility service trucks and fire fighting trucks responding to emergency situations.


Organizations: Tri-County Regional School Board

Geographic location: Cleveland Road, Yarmouth, Lake George Shelburne

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