Part of the controversial Plan B Trans-Canada Highway realignment project near Bonshaw opened to traffic for the first time on Monday.
Transportation minister Rob Vessey said the $16-million project is still on budget and on time.
Half of the project is paid for through federal funding, the rest is paid for by the province.
“It’s a very satisfying day… to open a section of the alignment project,” he said
The additional $4-million tab of expropriating land and houses required to complete the project is being paid for by the P.E.I. government.
The controversial highway has reshaped the hills between New Haven and Bonshaw, cutting a large swath through forest land that’s now covered with new asphalt.
The road has opened from the Bonshaw Bridge to Churchill, P.E.I. The rest of the massive highway is expected to open next month.
During construction, massive amounts of rocks and earth were moved, causing some environmental issues such as silt runoff into the West River Watershed.
“We've moved over [28,000 cubic metres] of earth here. I think the mitigations, for the most part, worked extremely well,” said Vessey.
The long stretch of highway is banked by walls of rocks and long steep slopes into deep valleys. Vessey stressed that the new road is much safer.
“Now this is a project that was driven from safety and we’ve taken off 24 entrances onto this section of highway, we’ve reduced the curves and the radiuses on this section of highway, brought it up to today’s standards,” he said.
Despite the protests, the angry letters to the editors, and some skepticism from the public, Vessey said most Islanders support the project.
“There was a small group against the project and they made a lot of noise in the early in the project and they continue to watch us as we develop the highway,” he said.