Potential toll amounts released for proposed highway twinning projects


Published on January 23, 2017

There have been numerous fatal accidents over the last five years between exits 27 and 29 of Nova Scotia’s Trans Canada Highway 104. Fire chief Joe MacDonald and MLA Tim Houston are urging the province to make twinning the rest of this stretch a priority. 

©Adam MacInnis - TC Media

UPDATE: Tonight's twinning consultation session at the Pictou County Wellness Centre has been rescheduled to Monday, Jan. 30 due to weather and poor road conditions. HALIFAX, N.S. - How much are you willing to pay for twinned highways? For most Nova Scotians it’s six cents a kilometre, according to a study recently conducted for the province.

It would cost $2.4 billion to twin the 300 kilometres of highway in Nova Scotia that the province is considering on highways 101, 103, 104 and 105.

A technical briefing was held Monday, Jan. 23 ahead of public consultations, which will start Tuesday in New Glasgow.

Bruce Fitzner, executive director of infrastructure programs for the Nova Scotia Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal explained that the $2.4 billion is simply not in the budget, which currently is at about $397 million for the current fiscal year. Only about 15 per cent of that budget goes to building new roads such as these proposed twinning projects.  That is why the province is looking at tolls as a possibility of speeding up the process of twinning the roads, he explained.

A feasibility study was conducted and looked at what Nova Scotians were willing to pay for tolls to speed up the construction of the twinned sections on eight pieces of highway and how much it would cost for each.

The potential tolls range from $.42 to $.84 for a seven-kilometre stretch from Port Hastings to Port Hawkesbury to $5.03 to $21.81 for an 83.9 km stretch between St. Peter’s to Sydney in Cape Breton where the entire twinned section would be new rather than using an existing roadway.

CBCL was hired to do the study and surveyed 1,027 Nova Scotians about how much they would be willing to way for tolls to help twin the highway sections.

Audrey Muir, project manager for CBCL, explained that the estimated median toll rate people were willing to pay was six cents per kilometre. Based on that, both the corridors from Port Hastings to Port Hakesbury and from St. Peters to Sydney were given a poor financial viability.

 

Projects considered viable are:

Corridor 1: Hwy 101, Three Mile Plains to Falmouth, 10.8 km. Possible toll range: $.65 to $1.08

Corridor 2: Hwy 101, Hortonville to Coldbrook, 23.7 km. Possible toll range: $1.42 to $2.37

Corridor 3: Hwy 103, Exit 5 at Tantallon to Exit 12 Bridgewater, 68.1 km. Possible toll range: $4.08 to $6.81

Corridor 4: Hwy 104, Sutherland’s River to Antigonish, 37.8 km. Possible toll range: $2.27 to $3.78

Corridor 5: Hwy 104, Taylors Road to Auld’s Cove, 39.5 km. Possible toll range: $2.37 to $3.95

Corridor 8: Hwy 107, Porter’s Lake to Duke Street, Bedford, 33.3 km. Possible toll range: $2 to $3.33.

 

Fitzner explained that several of these projects could be started at once. If all were to be done, it would be the largest highway expansion project in the history of Nova Scotia.

The next step in the process is the 12 public consultations, which start Tuesday, Jan. 23 and continue through March.

At those the province will be looking for feedback from the public on the current condition of 100-series highways in the province, whether they think twinning is the only option for improving safety and if they support tolls to twin the highways sooner.

Once that’s done, a “What We Heard” document will be compiled with feedback from all the meetings and presented to the provincial government who will then review and consider the comments before deciding on an action.

For complete information on the public sessions, visit www.novascotia.ca/twinning.

If the highway sections were twinned, Muir said their studies found that accidents would be reduced by as many as 21 per year along the Tantallon to Bridgewater corridor (68.1 km). Accidents along the corridor from Sutherland’s River to Antigonish would be reduced by an estimated 11.6 accidents per year (37.8 km).