Nova Scotia

Capital spending could be used to make deadly Hwy 103 safer

The Nova Scotia government is reducing the amount of money it will spend on highway construction in the 2015-2016 fiscal year, but there is a glimmer of hope for the push to twin part of Highway 103 outside Halifax.

Nova Scotia's capital spending plan shrinks by 8%

There have been calls to twin part of Highway 103 outside Halifax, where the death toll continues to climb. (CBC)

The Nova Scotia government is reducing the amount of money it will spend on highway construction in the 2015-2016 fiscal year, but there is a glimmer of hope for the push to twin part of Highway 103 outside Halifax.

This year, the provincial government is spending $235 million on major highway construction projects. 

Next year, the amount will be reduced to $220 million, but officials say that's still a significant amount of money.  

The work will involve nine major projects, including a new alignment on a winding, narrow stretch of Highway 103 between Broad River and Port Joli, as well as the 103 Ingramport interchange.

There have been calls to twin part of Highway 103 outside Halifax, where the death toll continues to climb

On Monday, Department of Transportation officials disclosed the traffic numbers for vehicles travelling on Highway 103 between Exit 5 and Exit 6 have reached 10,000 per day — which is the threshold where twinning is considered. 

However, twinning is not the only option being considered. The department is also looking at the possibility of a centre concrete barrier with alternating passing lanes. Officials say the Ingramport interchange is the first step to further improvements. 

Another area of high fatalities on Highway 104, between Barney's River and Antigonish.  More than 4,000 people have signed a petition asking the government to install a toll highway to reduce the number of deaths

The department is studying the roadway, but right now there is no plan to make changes to that section of the highway.

Finance minister Diana Whalen says the province is practising sound fiscal management and, as part of that, all departments have been asked to look at all options that will include tolls.   

Capital spending reduced by 8%

The province hasn't said what major projects are in the last two years of its five-year plan. That's because those projects will depend on federal government funding from the new Build Canada plan and those negotiations are still very much in the initial stages

The Nova Scotia government plans to spend a total of $490 million on highways, schools, hospitals and equipment in 2015-16 as part of its annual capital plan.

Almost 70 per cent of that money will be spent on highways, buildings and land.

The remainder will be split between capital grants, information technology, vehicles and a contingency fund.

The total amount represents an eight per cent reduction when compared to last year's plan.

The province also released a five-year highway improvement plan for repairing and maintaining the province's 23,000 kilometres of roads and 4,100 bridges.

With files from The Canadian Press

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