PICTOU – A frequent user of the Jitney Trail says he hopes repairs to the gates blocking motor vehicles from it will help keep the trail safe.
“I’ll definitely be keeping an eye on it,” said Mark Henderson, who runs, cycles and walks his pets on the trail.
For more than a month, Henderson and his fellow users have encountered motor vehicles on the trail and repeated calls for the town to address the matter were addressed last week when repairs were done at gates on the trail between Brown’s Point and the Lyons Brook road.
The trail starts on Pictou’s waterfront behind the deCoste Entertainment Centre and proceeds along the former railway bed around Brown’s Point, crossing the Lyons Brook Road toward Scotsburn.
Henderson discovered a new post was installed to hold part of a dual gate at the Brown’s Point end and gravel was applied to allow walkers and bikers around the gates. Both gates have also been padlocked.
He ran two letters to the editor in the Advocate and emailed the town twice about securing the trail to keep motorists off it.
“The answer I got to the first e-mail I sent about this problem was that it was an important issue and would be dealt with promptly; one answer even said it would be taken care of that day,” Henderson said. He later noticed potholes and happened to see Craig Aucoin, who is vision impaired, running on the trail. He shared that information in a second email before noticing the recent work.
“What they did will help, as long as it stops the vehicles,” he said. “I appreciate how they reacted to my suggestion. It shows persistence pays off. I run there twice a week and take my dog there other times. It’s nice. It’s great without the cars. Now it’s even better.”
Henderson noticed car tracks and vehicles crossing the foot bridge near the Lyons Brook end of the trail.
“I wouldn’t risk a car on it,” he said. “We were on the trail once and heard a collision. Both cars had to be towed away. Another time we saw a car kicking up a lot of dust.”
Some potholes remain that Henderson expects to be filled.
“I said to them I’d hate to have to go to New Glasgow,” he said, referring to the Samson Trail that’s so popular on the town’s west side. “It’s nice but Pictou can be too.”
Mayor Joe Hawes confirmed the town did the gravelling and gate work, even though that portion of the trail belongs to the province. Although there have been discussions about reverting the deed for it back to the town, Hawes said the transfer has not occurred.
“We’re doing the work,” he said.
“We’d like to see it safe for people. It’s good of Mark to keep us apprised and we’ll try to keep it up as best we can. If we didn’t do it, it would be worse.”
Hawes said new, stronger gates have been ordered to keep motorists from breaking through. “If a gate is broken we’ll fix it again,” he said. “It’s a Catch-22.”