BY KIRK STARRATT
A Coldbrook resident says he returned home recently from a trip to Cape Breton to find what he described as ‘a God-awful mess’ in front of his property.
Cliff Lowrey said the Department of Transportation (DOT) in Berwick is responsible for maintaining his subdivision street, Loretta Avenue. While he was away, someone came and dug out the ditches in front of his and his neighbours’ properties.
He wasn’t happy with the quality of the work because the ditch appears crooked and the land there is all sand. Culverts at either end of his property were left clogged with dirt and Lowrey said there appears to have been no clean-up at all.
Lowrey contacted his representative on county council, Barry Peterson, who looked into the matter. Peterson told Lowrey that the DOT would send someone out to straighten the ditch and clean up the site.
However, four or five weeks have passed and no one has been out to fix the ditch. The ditchwork had apparently been subcontracted to a private concern. A representative of DOT told Lowrey it’s the department’s responsibility to maintain the ditch. “It looks God-awful. It’s a horrible mess,” Lowrey said. “I’ve been here for 11 years and no one has ever touched it.”
Afraid of falling in
He said the work has made it difficult for him to mow around the ditch with his ride-on mower. The depth is 18 to 24 inches in spots and Lowrey is afraid of falling in. His property, the highest point on Loretta Avenue, is on a sand belt and there has always been excellent drainage. There was never any water in the ditch, which was grown over with lawn.
Lowrey said he left the mess in his yard as it was because he was so disgusted. He doesn’t dispute that the land where the ditch is located is part of DOT’s right of way and they can do what they want there, but he has spent thousands of dollars beautifying his lawn only to have it ripped up.
Because the land is so sandy, a lot of the edges of the newly dug ditch appear to have caved in already and cracks have formed in the ground along the street shoulder. Lowrey said he’s concerned the erosion problem will continue to worsen if something isn’t done and more expensive repairs might result.
DOT New Minas area manager Fred Whynot said Monday, Sept. 10 that he’s aware of the problem on Loretta Avenue and with a similar problem in another area. If it weren’t for the fact they’ve experienced an equipment failure relating to one of their backhoes, Whynot said the problems would have been dealt with sooner. He said someone would likely be out to work on the ditch as early as next week.
Whynot said they could hopefully discuss the issues involved with the subject contractor and with future contractors doing this sort of work on the department’s behalf.