DIGBY - For Clare Digby MLA Gordon Wilson, today “was probably my best day” since being elected to the Nova Scotia Legislature.
Wilson and West Nova MP Greg Kerr had just announced the provincial and federal governments will share the cost of continuing Hwy. 101 as a controlled access highway from Digby to Marshalltown.
The first phase, with a cost that could reach $17.6 million according to Wilson, will see the 100-Series limited access highway extended from Digby for about four kilometres. Work will begin perhaps late next year.
It will be the first of as many as four phases of highway construction to end the ‘missing link’ between Digby and Weymouth. The existing two-lane section of highway is the only non-limited access portion Hwy. 101 between Yarmouth and Lower Sackville.
Replacing the whole link is a $130 million project, said Wilson, but both he and Kerr were confident that once the project was underway with the first four-kilometre section, the rest would follow.
“Let’s get it started,” said Wilson, whose career in municipal administration and then in provincial politics has frequently concentrated on the unfinished 101.
“This is the first step in continuing the controlled access highway between Digby and Weymouth,” said Wilson. “The province is completing detailed surveys in the area and determining access and right-of-way requirements.”
The announcement was welcomed this afternoon in the Royal Canadian Legion by local municipal leaders, members of the Highway 101 Task Force, and a number of people who live along the old Hwy. 1.
Heather Andrews of Barton, who was in the audience with her husband, had heard a highways announcement was imminent, and was expecting good news.
“Usually, when you get two or three levels of government making an announcement, it is going to be good,” she said.
Although this first section of highway won’t reach her home, she was enthusiastic about prospects now, and plans to be around when the 100-Series highway is finally completed.
“Hwy. 101 is a priority now for both governments,” said Kerr. “Once it is started, there will be a realization that it has to be completed.”
Wilson said the four-kilometre section, which will curve through land to the north of the existing highway, has some construction problems with overburden and water.
As well, Seely Brook, will likely need a $2 million bridge, said a member of the Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal department.
Nova Scotia will be responsible for $9.2 million of construction costs, while the federal government, under its New Building Canada Plan, is conditionally setting aside up to $7.5 million.
The federal funding is conditional on the project meeting applicable eligibility requirements with respect to the New Building Canada Fund and the signing of a contribution agreement.