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Antigonish County council calls emergency meeting for Monday

One person was killed in a crash outside Antigonish on Monday morning, Dec. 2, 2019 at the intersection of Highway 4 and Beech Hill Road.
One person was killed in a crash outside Antigonish on Monday morning, Dec. 2, 2019 at the intersection of Highway 4 and Beech Hill Road. - Aaron Beswick

Discussion to focus on safety concerns regarding Highway 4-Beech Hill Road intersection

ANTIGONISH, N.S. —

Municipality of the County of Antigonish council has called an emergency meeting for Monday at 5:30 p.m.

The session will focus on what clerk-treasurer Glenn Horne described in an email as "ongoing safety concerns" regarding the Beech Hill Road-Trunk 4 intersection. 

A second accident in less than a week at that location occurred Saturday afternoon (Dec. 7).

RCMP reported the driver of a car was airlifted to hospital in Halifax and a passenger in the same vehicle was seriously injured after a collision with a pick-up truck.

The driver of the truck - the lone occupant - suffered minor injuries.

The road was closed for around six hours after the crash, which occurred at approximately 2:30 p.m., while RCMP traffc analysts studied the area.

Monday morning (Dec. 2), a tractor trailer collided with a car in the same intersection.

The driver of the car, a 41-year-old Toronto man, was pronounced dead at the scene and an RCMP reconstructionist spent the morning figuring out what happened.

RCMP said that at 7:18 a.m., a black car was travelling north on Beech Hill Road, stopped at the stop sign, then pulled onto Highway 4 in front of an eastbound logging truck.

"The logging truck struck the black car, then struck a blue car that had been waiting to turn left at the same intersection," RCMP said in a news release. 

The drivers of the truck and blue car weren't injured, but the driver of the black car died at the scene. 

Though it was the first fatality at the intersection, it was far from the first crash.

When the newly twinned section of Highway 104 opened in 2016 it was supposed to result in fewer accidents by circling around behind the Town of Antigonish.

But on the first day the highway opened the department got three calls for accidents at the intersection that sees the Beech Hill Road cross the old Trunk 4 highway.

In 2017, 19 of the 91 calls to the Antigonish County Volunteer Fire Department were to that one intersection.

“It takes a toll on the membership,” Chief Allan Kennedy said, after his department returned from the Dec. 2 extrication.

Cautioning that they aren’t highway engineers, Kennedy and deputy chief Jon DeWolfe both said Monday that something needs to be done.

The Nova Scotia Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal followed through on an county council request to complete a traffic study on the intersection.

Department spokesman Peter McLaughlin confirmed Dec. 2 studies of the intersection and the entire length of Trunk 4 have been completed and they intend to begin design work this spring on modifications.

The design will include a lane reduction and “other intersection improvements“ with construction to be scheduled in the 2021-22 capital plan.

“That’s good to hear,” Warden Owen McCarron said, upon hearing the department’s plans.

For Kennedy and his volunteers, the work can’t come soon enough.

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