NEWS
05/12/2017 04:55 EDT | Updated 05/15/2017 05:04 EDT

Cape Breton crews working 'around the clock' to repair storm-damaged Cabot Trail

SYDNEY, N.S. — One of Atlantic Canada's most stunning scenic roadways has been badly damaged by weather and is in need of major repairs weeks before a busy tourism season gets underway.

Days of heavy rain and snow melt off the Cape Breton highlands have eroded sections of the Cabot Trail, leaving extensive damage and washed out shoulders.

The roadway has reopened to traffic but the Nova Scotia Department of Transportation says "in excess of 20 locations" need work.

It says crews are working overtime to fix the road, especially sections with sharp turns along steep ocean cliffs.

The Cabot Trail Relay Race, a two-day, 17-stage course that draws competitors from around the world, starts May 27.

A number of other secondary highways in the region were also washed out and two roads remain closed.

"We've had crews out around the clock and working extended hours to assess the damage and get started on repairs," Transportation Department area manager Stephen MacDonald said Thursday.

"The Cabot Trail is our highest priority," he said. "It's a twisty-turny road that goes up and down hills right along the coastline, so safety is a concern."

MacDonald said he hopes to have most of the repairs completed ahead of the relay race, which attracts 1,200 runners to the area.

Meanwhile, Sydney-area residents continue to keep vigil over their basements.

Cape Breton Regional Municipality spokeswoman Christina Lamey said a week of steady rain has saturated the ground and water levels are high.

"Groundwater is impacting basements in some areas," she said by email. "There are no reports of overland flooding of homes or infrastructure though."

Despite surging watercourses, she said no roads in the Sydney area have been washed out.

— By Brett Bundale in Halifax