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PM to pledge cash for Highway 104 twinning

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks during a fundraising event May 31 in Wolfville. He will be visiting Central Nova Tuesday (July 17), where he is expected to announce $90 million in funding for twinning part of Highway 104 - a 38-kilometre stretch from Sutherlands River, Pictou County, to Antigonish. Sara Ericsson/Salt Wire Network

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will announce $90 million in funding for twinning part of Highway 104, The Chronicle Herald and SaltWire Network has learned. 

A Liberal source confirmed on Monday that Trudeau, who will be joined by Premier Stephen McNeil, will reveal details of a project to twin a 38-kilometre stretch of the 104 from Sutherlands River to Antigonish on Tuesday morning.

Locals have long called for improvements to that part of the highway due to the number of fatalities and collisions over the years.

The source told The Chronicle Herald that shovels are expected to be in the ground by next summer. It is expected to create hundreds of jobs.

Ottawa has already contributed millions to highway twinning projects in Nova Scotia. In January, $69 million in joint federal and provincial funding was announced to twin a 9.5-kilometre stretch of Highway 101 from Three Mile Plains to Falmouth, and in July 2017, the province and the feds announced $140 million in joint funding for twinning a dangerous 22-kilometre stretch of Highway 103 from Upper Tantallon to Hubbards. Both projects are being funded through the New Building Canada Fund: National and Regional Projects and are part of a larger twinning and improvement plan for the 100-series highways over the next seven years.

In April 2017, following public consultation, the Nova Scotia government committed $390 million over seven years to improve a number of highways rather than charge tolls. This included the twinning of sections of Highways 104, 101 and 103, as well as the construction of a four-lane, divided, 8.7 kilometre Burnside Connector (Highway 107) between Burnside and Bedford.

The province said last year that the estimated cost for all projects is $665 million and that they are scheduled to be complete by 2024, although some will be completed earlier.

In an interview with The Chronicle Herald last week — prior to the announcement of the latest twinning funding — Nova Scotia Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal Minister Lloyd Hines said the province is thrilled with the support from Ottawa for the highway work.

He said Highway 101 and 103 plans are “moving forward with intent” with tendering processes underway.

“At the core for our twinning strategy is safety. We know that twinned highways save lives,” he said.

“These are major projects that really need the support of the federal government to get them completed.”

Tuesday’s twinning announcement is slated to take place at East Pictou Middle School at 10 a.m., unless it rains, then the announcement will be at the County of Antigonish Municipal Building. Then Trudeau and McNeil will meet at St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish.

Following the meeting, Trudeau will join Central Nova MP Sean Fraser for a “family, fun summer BBQ” at St. FX in Antigonish.

Fraser told The Chronicle Herald the event is open to the public.

“The prime minister and I will offer some remarks but the main purpose of the event will be to meet and speak with people,” he said.

On Monday, Trudeau toured the Beaubassin and Fort Lawrence National Historic Sites, an event that was closed to media.

When Trudeau returns to Ottawa on Wednesday, he is expected to announce a cabinet shuffle.

~The Chronicle Herald

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