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Plans to widen the Mackay highway to six lanes through suburban communities outside Saint John have been stopped. ((CBC))

The provincial government has officially killed plans to widen the Mackay highway to six lanes through suburban communities outside Saint John.

Transportation Minister Claude Williams said the move will save taxpayers a "significant" amount of money.

"Right now, we're close to ending the, finalizing the agreement. What I can tell you is it will be in the millions of dollars," said Williams. 

The province had to renegotiate a signed contract with Dexter Construction to get out of the deal. It is not known how much that cost.

Citing safety concerns, the towns of Rothesay and Quispamsis wanted the highway widened.

The Department of Transportation believes it can deal with those safety issues by amending the project to include improvements to the route 111 interchange and to some of the highway's on and off ramps.

The announcement has been anticipated for some time.

Last month property owners along the 8-km route got letters informing them the province was abandoning its intention to expropriate their land for the project.

During last fall's provincial election, Conservative candidates from the Kennebecasis Valley came out in opposition to the highway expansion saying it would be costly and unnecessary.

The city of Saint John also opposed it, on the advice of planning consultants who said it would only encourage more people to move to the suburbs.