Nova Scotia

Highway twinning projects remain on track for 2024 completion

Work is well underway to twin sections of highways 101 and 103 and has started on Highway 104.

Province releases $300M plan for roads and bridges for 2019-20

Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal Minister Lloyd Hines released the 2019-20 edition of the province's five-year highway improvement plan on Tuesday. (Robert Short/CBC)

Nova Scotia's major highway twinning projects remain on schedule for completion by 2024.

Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal Minister Lloyd Hines delivered the news Tuesday during the release of the 2019-20 edition of the five-year highway improvement plan.

"I couldn't be happier at this point as to where the staff are," Hines told reporters in Halifax. "We're staying very strong on making sure we hit the targets."

Hines said more of the control for the projects would begin to shift to successful bidders on the various aspects of the work, however he said government is structuring things so "there is a compelling reason for the timelines to be hit."

Work is well underway to twin sections of highways 101 and 103 and has started on Highway 104, with a tender for the bulk of that work expected soon, said Hines. Work on Highway 107, or the Burnside connector, will begin in the spring with land clearing, with construction expected to begin in the summer.

Peter Hackett, the department's chief engineer, said the province has reached an agreement with the federal Defence Department to acquire the access and land it needs for the project, and arrangements are being made for locating and removing any undetonated explosives.

Highway 104 from Sutherlands River to Antigonish is one of the 100-series highways in the province receiving major upgrades as part of the twinning project. (Andrew Vaughan/Canadian Press)

The overall plan for 2019-20 will see $300 million in capital spending on major construction, asphalt and resurfacing, gravel roads, bridge replacement and rehabilitation, and other items. That's a $15-million increase from the previous fiscal year and Hines said almost all of the additional $15 million would go toward the twinning projects.

Other major projects the minister highlighted for the coming fiscal year include the start of construction on the Lantz interchange and improvements to the Cabot Trail at Cape Smokey, including a widening of the road.

A challenge this year for work was a rise in the cost of asphalt, which during the summer saw a 10 to 15 per cent increase due to volatility in markets. Hackett said final numbers aren't ready yet but projections show total spending for 2018-19 won't be much higher than the budget of $285 million.

About the Author

Michael Gorman is a reporter in Nova Scotia whose coverage areas include Province House, rural communities, and health care. Contact him with story ideas at michael.gorman@cbc.ca