Nova Scotia's spending plan for roads, bridges grows by $60M
Budget includes start of twinning efforts, extra $10 million for gravel roads
The provincial government is pouring millions of extra dollars into its network of roads as it begins efforts to expand twinned highways and improve gravel roads.
The government released its five-year highway improvement plan on Tuesday, a plan that includes $285 million for highways, bridges and roads for 2018-19, up $60 million from the previous year.
Transportation Minister Lloyd Hines told reporters in Halifax the plan calls for 180 highway projects in 2018-19.
"This coming year will be a busy one," said Hines.
Focus on twinning efforts
The majority of the money is for new highway and bridge construction ($115 million) and asphalt and resurfacing ($101.5 million). Of the additional $60 million for the coming year, $50 million is for new highway and bridge construction.
New funding primarily focuses on the twinning projects on Highways 101, 103 and 104. The projects are at various stages of readiness, including clearing, subgrade and structure work along the 103 and 101 sections. Initial efforts along Highway 104 will focus on geotechnical, surveying and alignment work.
There's also about $2.7 million for design work, environmental assessment and land acquisition as part of the development of Highway 107.
By the numbers
Major multi-year projects beginning in 2018-19 include:
- Twinning efforts from Upper Tantallon to Ingramport ($24.5 million).
- Granite Drive interchange and connector on Highway 101 ($19 million).
- Highway 102/103 interchange replacement ($14.4 million).
- Highway 101 upgrades from Digby to Marshalltown ($13 million).
3,000 new jobs
Tuesday's announcement also included an additional $10 million for the gravel road program in 2018-19, bringing the total funding for that program to $20 million.
Hines said the additional money is a reflection that there are some gravel roads in the province that are so bad they need to be thoroughly repaired with upgrades or outright rebuilt — or else face constant repairs.
"In the long term, it's a cost saving for government," said Hines.
Government officials said the new spending should help create about 3,000 new jobs within the construction industry, based on industry estimates. Peter Hackett, the province's chief engineer, said the department believes the labour force capacity exists to handle the work.
"It's there," he said, adding that the province has benefited from major infrastructure upgrades recently at Cape Breton Highlands National Park.
"That allowed the contractors in the province to keep ramping up slowly as these things sort of progressed."