The provincial government has now acquired all but five of the properties in the path of the new Plan B section of the Trans-Canada Highway, between New Haven and Bonshaw. The rerouting involves 34 private properties, including 10 homes.
The last of the holdouts now face expropriation by Aug. 22, if they remain unable to negotiate a price. If a deal isn't reached by the deadline the government will decide what the fair market value is for the land.
Transportation Minister Robert Vessey said he is optimistic agreements can be reached with the remaining land owners before the deadline.
Last week, the first draft of the environmental assessment for the plan to reroute part of the highway around Churchill to Bonshaw was completed and posted online.
Tenders have gone out with a deadline of Aug. 23. The province estimates the work will create roughly 160 jobs.
The project has faced controversy, including an April protest by 350 people at Province House, and a petition with 3,000 signatures.
The plan calls for the rerouting to run through private forest lots on the other side of the current highway, eliminating steep grades and numerous driveway accesses.
Opponents have said the plan moved ahead without public consultation, and that other options to make the highway safer haven't been considered.
The Island Nature Trust also sent a letter to Vessey saying the group is strongly opposed to the rerouting of the Trans-Canada because it will cross a number of deep ravines and stream systems that support fish and wildlife.
The minister responded by saying the changes are needed to bring the highway stretch up to current safety standards.
Opposition leader Olive Crane has questioned that assessment, asking that the work be postponed for a year to see if enforcement would be enough to improve the accident record along this stretch of road.
An environmental impact assessment has been completed, and there will be a public meeting on that report Aug. 27 at the Dutch Inn in Cornwall.
The government said it hopes work on the new road will begin as early as September.
This story previously reported an incorrect date for the meeting on the environmental impact assessment.Aug 15, 2012 2:22 PM AT