N.S. government set to begin public consultations on highway twinning
The Nova Scotia government is conducting a study of eight stretches of highway in the province to determine how much it would cost to have them twinned.
In the second phase of its feasibility study, the Department of Transportation outlines how it would use tolls to twin the sections of highway. They total 304 of the 23,000 kilometresof provincial roads and highways in Nova Scotia.
“Keeping this very large number of existing roads and bridges safe for the public continues to be challenging within the resources that we have available,” said Bruce Fitzner of the transportation department.
The government says a survey shows Nova Scotians are willing to pay six cents per kilometre of road that needs to be twinned. Without considering government revenue, the breakeven toll price could range from 65 cents to $21.
Of the highways where tolls are required, the department admits they would have poor financial viability
“This would result in these twinned highways being available decades earlier, than could be achieved using conventional approaches,” said Audrey Muir of CBCL Consulting Engineers.
It would cost $2.2 billion to twin all eight stretches of highway.
“The province spends more on highway construction and maintenance than it actually collects in gas tax and vehicle registration and licensing fees,” said Fitzner. “In the current year, the gap will be about $30 million.”
Tolls would cover half of the $2.2 billion, with the province and the federal government expected to split the other half.
“If Nova Scotians decided they want us to move ahead with this thing, the whole package to build it all would take maybe up to 10 years,” Fitzner said.
Kevin Lacey of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation says something needs to be done.
“We already pay very high taxes and we are entitled to have safe, good quality roads, with all the money we already spend,” he said.
The transportation department says the research shows twinning will reduce drive time, collisions and fatalities.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Kayla Hounsell.