A study into the feasibility of twinning and tolling on major sections of Nova Scotia highways was released Thursday, but government says it has no immediate plans for implementation.
"I need to be very clear: government has not made a decision to move forward with twinning through tolling," said Transportation Minister Geoff MacLellan in a media release.
- Highway twinning plan for 100-series highways to be released soon
- Highway twinning study in N.S. awarded to CBCL Limited
"We now have the data that will provide the foundation for a discussion with Nova Scotians."
Government says it would cost more than $2 billion to build the twinning road infrastructure the public have said they want.
Twinning of 103 tops the list of 8 NS twinning projects. Potential toll for 70 km project would be 6 cents/km. pic.twitter.com/mZPTOZF1Y7— @PaulRPalmeter
"Nova Scotians have told us they want better, safer highways, but twinned highways are very expensive," said MacLellan.
CBCL Limited, an engineering and environmental consulting firm, was hired last year to look at twinning and tolling eight sections of major Nova Scotia highways. The study cost about $900,000.
The study looks at the traffic volumes at the eight sections of highway identified by government as options for tolling in order to help pay for twinned highways.
Highway 104 twinning projects rate 3rd and 4th but local advocate and fire chief is ok with it. pic.twitter.com/bxBeSKAz09— @PaulRPalmeter
In the feasibility study, CBCL used a benchmark of five to 10 cents per kilometre of tolled highway, but government said those rates are not necessarily what the rate would be if tolled highways were put in place.
The study showed that four of the eight sections identified are considered good candidates for the tolling-twinning combo:
- Highway 101 - Hortonville to Coldbrook — 24.7 km.
- Highway 103, from Exit 5 at Tantallon to Exit 12 — 71 km.
- Highway 104, from Sutherlands River to Antigonish — 37.8 km.
- Highway 107, from Porters Lake to Duke Street, Bedford — 33 km.
The other four stretches of the 100-series highways that were studied are:
- Highway 101 - Three Mile Plains to Falmouth — 9.5 km.
- Highway 104 - Taylors Road to Aulds Cove — 38.4 km.
- Highway 104 - Port Hastings to Port Hawkesbury — 6.75 km.
- Highway 104 - St. Peter's to Sydney — 80 km.
Eight years ago Bruce Hetherington lost his son Jamie in a car crash on Highway 103 when a car crossed over the centre line. Two other people also lost their lives in the accident.
He's been pushing to have the highway twinned to avoid more deaths.
"If there was a divided highway that wouldn't have happened," he said Thursday.
"The guy might have lost control of his car and he would have ended up smacking his car up a little bit, but he'd still be alive."
Thursday's report is the first phase of the CBCL study. A second phase of the report — called a detailed feasibility study — is still underway and will refine cost estimates and include input from the public.
MacLellan said in May government is hoping to start the public consultation process by the end of the summer.