A Google image of a truck travelling on a two-lane portion of the Trans-Canada highway between Quebec and New Brunswick.
FREDERICTON, NB — It looks like the Trans-Canada Highway will be completely twinned from the Quebec border to the Nova Scotia border in 2014.
There’s still a tiny stretch of highway— about 2.8 km— that’s still a two-lane, from the Quebec border into New Brunswick. But with New Brunswick’s announcement of a capital budget of $233.2 million for 2014-15, the province will complete twinning.
Twinning the Trans-Canada highway has been in the works since 2012, when Grand Falls-based Restigouche Construction Co. Ltd. won the bid to complete stretch of highway between Edmundston and the Quebec border.
“Converting all of Route 2 into a four-lane highway is a strategic investment that will improve access to our province by improving traffic flow,” Williams said in a 2012 statement, when twinning work began.
There are about 6,000 vehicles travelling daily on the highway, according to 2012 statistics and the provincial government says30 per cent of those vehicles are transport trucks.
Since work began in 2012, NB spent about $18.8 million ($6.8 million in 2012, $10 million in 2013 and they have $2.6 million in this year’s budget for the project).
Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Claude Williams announced the 2014-15 capital budget at $232.2 million. That’s money put aside for new projects and materials.
How the capital budget is divided:
$48.9 million for permanent bridges;
$85.6 million for permanent highways;
$47.5 million for rural roads;
$31.2 million for the National Highway Program;
$10 million for public works and infrastructure;
$10 million for the Vehicle Management Agency.
The funding will achieve:
completion of the Route 8 Nashwaak / Marysville bypass;
completion of twinning of the Trans-Canada Highway at the Quebec border;
continued work on the Route 11 Caraquet bypass;
continued work on Route 17 in the Black Brook area;
the start of construction of a new Kouchibouguasis River Bridge in Saint-Louis-de-Kent.
“This year’s operating budget reflects the department’s ongoing transformation to a performance-based organization,” Williams said, adding: “Year after year, our investment in bridges will increase substantially. We are being financially responsible by focusing most of the capital budget on rehabilitating existing infrastructure.”
Re-focusing on Route 11
Some of the capital budget, $4.5 million to be exact, will go to geotechnical and archeological investigation, survey, property acquisition, design work and clearing to begin construction on Route 11 from Shediac to Saint-Grégoire, south of Bouctouche. Another $1.4 million will go to resurface 3.5 kilometres of Route 11 in the Saint-Grégoire area.
It’s one of the last major roads in New Brunswick that needs twinning. Route 11 is entirely a two-lane highway, stretching around the east side and crossing over on the northern side – it goes from Moncton through Miramichi and Bathurst and crosses over to Campbellton.
A few years back, the previous government planned a$942-million projectto twin the highway to reduce fatalities on the heavily-travelled highway. (According to 2009 date, there are about 6,600 vehicles at Bouctouche and over 10,000 at Shediac, daily).
They even presented a three-phase plan, but that was later abandoned – until now.
“Our multi-year capital budget plan also earmarks further funding for Route 11 during the next two fiscal years,” Williams said. “This funding will be $22 million in 2015-16 for ongoing planning and design and to start roadway and structure construction in the Shediac area; and $26 million in 2016-17 to continue construction.”
New Brunswick will twin a stretch of about 30 km from Sherdiac to Saint-Gregoire, close to Bouctouche; the most heavily travelled section of the route. It will take about 10 years to complete twinning and will require federal funding. The provincial government will also build 11 km of by-passes. A two-lane controlled access highway bypass will be constructed between Miramichi and Glenwood, and the existing alignment between Glenwood and Saint-Gregoire will be improved.
To twin the entire Route 11 would cost about $1 billion.
“The approach we are taking will make the necessary upgrades at a cost of less than $500 million, while addressing capacity constraints and traffic flow as well as providing a safer and more efficient highway for New Brunswickers,” he said.
Williams said the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure also has $273.4 million for 2014-15, to be used for maintenance and other day-to-day operational expenses.
How it will be spent:
$60.2 million for winter maintenance;
$53.3 million for summer highway, bridge and ferry maintenance;
$60.6 million for buildings and facilities management;
$59.8 million for grants in lieu of municipal property taxes;
$20.2 million for the New Brunswick Highway Corporation;
$17.8 million for corporate services, policy and strategic development and district administration;
$1.5 million for planning, design and engineering services for bridge and highway construction and property management.