Transportation Minister Bill Estabrooks said costs were lower. ((CBC))

It will likely be a few years before the province knows how much much money it saved by spending $1.4 million to buy its own chip sealing equipment this year.

"After three years, we'll have a good, clear understanding of what we've done, and how we made out," Transportation Minister Bill Estabrooks said Thursday. "Then we'll be able to look at it, not just on one year."

He admitted there were problems, including a slow start up due to hiring and training. But the government is taking credit for lower tenders received from private road builders for their chip sealing work.

"Is it coincidence that we are getting cheaper prices because we literally stuck our toe in," Estabrooks said.

Liberal Leader Stephen McNeil said he doesn't believe the province saved any money.

"The government has done very little chip sealing, 35 kilometres. I don't believe that was going to scare anyone into lowering prices," he said.


Government crews chip sealed 40 kilometres of road this past summer. ((CBC))

The government's opponents say lower prices were the result of competition within industry,

"They did not delver what they said," Grant Feltmate, of the Nova Scotia Road Builders Association, said Wednesday.

He claimed taxpayers were actually the losers, that the government chip sealing crew delivered only 10 per cent of what was promised.

 A retired road builder kept the goverment crew under surveillance for weeks, keeping records and taking pictures.

The Progressive Conservatives say those findings tarnish the program.

"The government cooked its business plan to justify taking over an important area of the road building industry," Tory Leader Jamie Baillie said.   

The government said Thursday that its crews chip sealed 40 kilometres of road this past summer.