The premier says it’s important to start work on the Hwy. 104 twinning project soon.
Stephen McNeil thanked local first responders for their service at Tuesday’s federal funding announcement (find the original story by clicking here), especially Joe MacDonald, the chief of the Barney’s River Volunteer Fire Department, who’s been a long-time advocate for the project.
McNeil said this project is about saving lives above all else.
“Whether you live in this community or across this province, we all use this highway,” he said. “We’ve all experienced the warning call when we heard that another knock has gone on another door for a Nova Scotia family, (who) is going to get the news that a loved one has been lost on this stretch of highway.”
McNeil said 28 kilometres of the 38-kilometre stretch will be twinned alongside existing highway, while the remaining 10 kilometres will be a new, four-lane highway from James River to Barney’s River, south of the current highway, due to “existing topography.”
He said a request for qualifications will be issued to industry members in the private sector as part of a P3 model before the end of July.
MacDonald said it’s been a desperate cry for change, with more than 400 collisions on that section of highway, including 16 deaths, since 2009.
“This deadly stretch of highway needed to be twinned as soon as possible,” he said. “I wrote about the effects to the horrific car accidents, and the effects on our families, of those who have died and have been disabled for the rest of their lives.”
MacDonald said responding to collisions takes a toll on first responders and their loved ones, and he’s thankful for support he’s received since he started advocating for twinning.
He said he’s confident the project will progress quickly, considering the timeline for work on the Cobequid Pass was 22 months.
Rodger Cuzner, the Liberal MP for Cape Breton-Canso, says he started advocating for the highway to be twinned between Port Hawkesbury and New Glasgow years ago, so it’s nice to hear 38 kilometres will be done.
He says it must be scary for first responders dispatched to highway collisions in the area.
“When that pager goes off and they’re called to a highway accident, they don’t know what they’re going to be facing,” he says. “A couple of them talked about the horrors of scraping a young guy off the dash of a car, and I just can’t imagine ever having to be able to deal with that.”
Officials with provincial government are putting $195 million toward the project.