The P.E.I. government announced Tuesday that it will move ahead with plans to realign the Trans-Canada Highway so that it won't cut through Strathgartney Provincial Park and nearby protected lands.

Transportation Minister Robert Vessey said the new route will also address safety concerns in the communiities of Churchill, New Haven and Bonshaw.

More than 2,700 people signed a petition asking the province to preserve Stratgartney park.

There were also 300 submissions from Islanders, most of whom asked that the provincial park be protected as well as ecologically sensitive areas nearby.

"We heard from the people and we listened to the people in a very open and transparent process and one I'm very proud of," Vessey said.

"And the message we kept hearing again and again was: Do not go into the parks."

Vessey said many Islanders also felt the stretch of highway needed safety improvements and the new plan addresses that concern as well.

The redesign of the highway will eliminate sharp curves, steep grades, and numerous driveway accesses, he said.  

The project will cost close to $15 million.

Public consultations will be held in the new year so residents can see the new alignment and ask questions.  A full environmental assessment process will begin immediately and must be completed before construction can begin.