Motorists advised to avoid Heart's Content Barrens

Melissa Jenkins
Published on January 8, 2014
A section of the Heart's Content Barrens Jan. 8 after the Department of Transportation and Works closed it due to low visibility.
Photo by Melissa Jenkins

Travelling north on Route 70 this morning (Jan. 8), the roads appear clear, with little snow.

Travelling north on Route 70 this morning (Jan. 8), the roads appear clear, with little snow.

It would come as a surprise to some, who continue their journey down Route 74, that the Heart’s Content Barrens are completely the opposite.

Only a few kilometres past Victoria, the winds are high, blowing snow across the two-lane highway. The roads are a slick layer of ice, covered with snow. Lines painted on the roads are not visible in most places, and drivers have difficulty seeing if there are vehicles coming towards, or behind them.

This is what The Compass experienced this morning after the highway between Victoria and Heart’s Content was closed by the Department of Transportation and Works because it was considered impassible.

Although a warning was issued and reported by news media in the province, not to mention on social media by those who were rerouted north, after heading south from Heart’s Content, vehicles still pushed through the whiteout conditions and took a chance on the barrens.

Cars and trucks alike were travelling as if there were no snow, disregarding the warnings. But vehicles were few and far in between.


Winds were rough

If a vehicle were to stop, and the driver attempted to exit, it would be difficult to open the door, as the wind — coming from the west — forced itself against the side, as if it were barricading the door, as witnessed by a Compass reporter who attempted to cross the barrens earlier this morning. As vehicles drove, they would disappear into the white haze that covered the roads.

A department plow was on the barrens at 9 a.m. clearing the northbound lane — the lane where most of the snow had drifted.

A news release issued by the department earlier today referred to the driving conditions as “very dangerous,” with “little to no visibility.”

It is advised drivers stay off the Heart’s Content barrens until further notice.