Highway 11 twinning project dumped

A project to twin Highway 11 that was promised by the Liberals, is being turned down by Tories because the project is too costly.

Transportation Minister Claude Williams says passing lanes will be added

Many eastern New Brunswick mayors are frustrated over the provincial government's decision to abandon plans to twin Highway 11 between Shediac and Miramichi.

The $942-million project was originally announced by former premier Shawn Graham as a way to reduce traffic fatalities along the stretch of highway and as a way to better connect northern and southern New Brunswick.

Transportation Minister Claude Williams said the project has been dropped because there is no money. Instead, the transportation minister says passing lanes will be added to the stretch of highway.

Many mayors say they were shocked when they found out this week that highway 11 won't be twinned.

"I was surprised and I was disappointed because I think I'm disappointed for the community," said Richibucto Mayor Roger Doiron.

"It's an important link between the north and south, it's important for tourism, for our economy, for the safety of the roads."

When the project was announced originally, the Department of Transportation released statistics showing the high volume of vehicles on the highway.

The area experienced roughly 6,600 vehicles daily at the Bouctouche end to more than 10,000 vehicles near Shediac, according to the 2009 data. 

Meeting of mayors

Doiron said mayors all the way from Shediac to Miramichi will be meeting to talk about the decision to shelve plans to twin the highway.

He said he hopes they will be able to convince the provincial government to look at putting the project back in place.

"What we would hope to see is not having passing lanes," said Doiron.

"It would be a project, a phase project. In other words if they want to build the first part of the project from Shediac to Bouctouche, that would be phase one. Phase two can be from Bouctouche to Richibucto, and phase three from Richibucto to Kouchibouguac."

The former Liberal government had announced the project to be done in three phases but there were no details on when construction would start, when it was expected to be completed or how the province intended to pay for it.

Graham had said he was hopeful the federal government would help finance the infrastructure project.

Doiron said there is always money for projects in southern New Brunswick. He said if the government wants the north to survive, it has to improve its links with the south.