Noise, speed among concerns heard for Wellington Connector

TIR’s Justin Tanner shows a resident a part on the design map of the Wellington Connector that was displayed at the public open house in Wellington on April 17. There was a great turnout from the community to see what the much needed connector would look like and to voice any concerns they had. (Healey photo)

Most residents at first session of open house seem positive on project

WELLINGTON: The first look at the design of the Wellington Connector was greeted with much fanfare and positivity, although there were concerns expressed over the proposed five kilometre stretch.

Some of the concerns expressed at one of the two Public Open Houses, held April 17 at the Wellington/Fletchers Lake Station House in Wellington, included blasting impact on residents wells in Oaken Hills; noise from transport trucks along the road; impact on the environment; and the speed limit.

Officials from the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal (TIR) were on hand and provided answers to many residents questions as well as heard concerns. There was also a spot to leave feedback and drop it in a box for TIR to consider as they look at what improvements can be made, if any.

“The detailed design process has started as we’re getting ready for construction next year,” said Justin Tanner, Manager, Highway Planning and Design with N.S. TIR. “We’re working on details right now.”

MP Darrell Samson, just in from Ottawa business as the Sackville-Preston-Chezzetcook representative, stopped in to get a look at the Wellington Connector design. The federal government is supporting the project move forward with a $10 million investment, announced in March 2017. (Healey photo)

Tanner addressed questions about possible future development along the Connector.

“There are three private land holdings surrounding the connecting road, and developers are welcomed to develop plans and apply for access off the road,” he said. “This is a controlled-access road. It would be limited to two or three access points that we would permit, but again they would have to come to us with a proposal and we would evaluate it for things like safety.”

The timeline. (Healey photo)

The timeline for the $21 million project has land clearing beginning in the fall of this year of Spring 2020. Construction would begin in the Spring of 2020; with paving and the roundabouts construction taking place between the Spring 2021 and Fall 2021. It is estimated the connector will open in the fall of 2021. There will also be an Active Transportation trail.

Dwayne Cross, access management engineer with TIR, said a traffic impact study was done.

“With that it helped us make decisions on the two roundabouts both ends for good traffic flow; reducing the amount of congestion that will be at those intersections; and some general traffic diversion from the Fall River area,” said Cross.

He said the roundabout being put in place at Hwy 2 and Sunylea Road will be “massaged a bit” more than the one in Fall River.

“There will be some tweaking based on what we’ve heard here,” said Cross.

Cross said the speed limit for the Wellington Connector is yet to be determined.

“Once we get it built, we’ll do a field assessment,” he said. “Most likely with the length of the roadway I suspect it will be 80 kilometres per hour.”

(Healey photo)

Tanner said any talk of a road extending to Beaver Bank through Sunylea is just that, as there is nothing on the radar for that.

“That was something that was considered many, many years ago. It’s not something we’re looking at,” said Tanner.

Tanner said they have heard concerns of the connector going in the backyards of those living in Oaken Hills, along Abilene Drive.

“Some of the mitigation’s we’re looking at is to naturally depress the roadway a little bit, below the current ground level elevations,” he said. “That will provide some sound mitigation and limiting the amount of trees that are cleared so there’s that vegetative buffer. We’re also going to try to shift the roadway as far from those properties as we can.”

An environmental assessment for the connector is underway by the province. After that, the public will have 60 days, said Tanner, to provide feedback. A decision will then be rendered by Nova Scotia Environment.