New Brunswick

Harper set to kill Saint John bridge tolls: sources

Prime Minister Stephen Harper will announce Friday that the tolls on on the Saint John Harbour Bridge will be removed, sources say.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper will announce Friday that the tolls on on the Saint John Harbour Bridge will be removed, government sources say. 

Staff from the prime minister's office were tight-lipped Thursday about what the announcement will be when the prime minister visits Saint John.

But, there were strong indications in this week's provincial throne speech that Harper is travelling to the port city to remove the tolls.

"They are finalizing an agreement that will result in the transfer of the bridge to the province and the removal of the tolls for all bridge users," Lt.-Gov. Graydon Nicholas said Tuesday, reading from the throne speech.

Also on Tuesday, Premier David Alward told a news conference a deal would be concluded in the "very near future."

The federal and provincial governments have been haggling over a deal that would erase the 40-year-old bridge's $22-million debt and cover ongoing maintenance costs.

Saint John Tory MP Rodney Weston also promised in the last federal election that he'd work to remove the 50 cent toll.

Bob McDevitt, chairman of the Saint John Harbour Bridge Authority, said Thursday he received an invitation to the announcement from Weston's office.

"It would be, I guess, to announce that they've reached an agreement with the provincial government," McDevitt said.

McDevitt said it will be bittersweet news because a deal will also mean eight full-time staff and 20 contract workers will lose their jobs.

now