Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Lloyd Hines promised that Hwy 104 between Sutherlands River and Antigonish will be twinned by 2022.
According to Hines, the province pledged $5 million of funding for planning, drilling testing and surveying for highway twinning across the province in its 2018-19 budget, tabled in the legislature Tuesday.
Hines gave a total projected cost of $285 million for highway twinning in Nova Scotia, saying that construction tenders for Hwy 104 will likely be issued next year.
“Of course, when we do the drill-down, when we do the engineering and the surveys it will be subject to what we find,” Hines told The News.
Final costs for Hwy 104 and other routes depend on topography, but Hines said that, where possible, existing double lanes on some stretches of highway will be widened.
However, the government has not yet settled publicly on a route through the Marshy Hope area.
Nonetheless, twinning Hwy 104 east of New Glasgow is badly needed according to proponents of the project as the existing two-lane road has seen a high number of fatalities.
“This twinning will save lives and you can’t put a price on safety,” said Hines.
The twinning of Hwy 104 will also provide an economic boost to northern and eastern Nova Scotia.
An upgraded road will provide easier transit from Halifax toward Cape Breton and as far as the Newfoundland ferry links, boosting trade and commerce between Nova Scotia and its Atlantic neighbour.
All told, the Liberals’ latest five-year plan for highways, unveiled some time before this week’s budget, maps out the government’s approach to repairing and maintaining 23,000 km of roads and highways and 4,100 bridges.
The $285 million road plan earmarks $115 million for major highway and bridge construction, $101.5 million for asphalt and resurfacing, $20 million in total for gravel roads, $29.1 million for bridge replacement and rehabilitation, $7 million for land purchases, $7.4 million for equipment and ferries and $5 million for design and surveying.
The gravel road funding includes an extra $10 million in new spending for routes in rural areas, which will be used for rebuilding.