HALIFAX: Nova Scotia’s roads, highways and bridges will see a $300 million investment in capital spending — a $15 million increase from last year.

Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal Minister Lloyd Hines updated the public on the over 150 projects as he released the 2019-20 edition of the five-year highway improvement plan on December 18.

“Transportation is critical to ensure safe connected communities; that’s why we’re making the largest investment in Nova Scotia’s infrastructure in eight years and one of the largest in the province’s history,” the MLA for Guysborough-Eastern Shore-Tracadie said. “We’re staying very strong on making sure we hit the targets.”

The $300 million investment includes; $130 million for major capital construction, such as new highways and bridges; $101.5 million for asphalt work and resurfacing; $29.1 million for bridge replacement and rehab; $20 million for the gravel road project, proactively rebuilding existing roads in rural Nova Scotia; and major construction on new highways and bridges accounting for the additional $15 million, with much of the additional funding focused on highway twinning.

Among the new projects for the upcoming fiscal year, will be the beginning of Highway 104 twinning from Sutherland’s River to Antigonish, access improvements to Exit 44 at Lower River Road in Richmond County, upgrading the intersection of Trunk 4 and Trunk 7 in Antigonish, and widening Trunk 30 along the Cabot Trail at Cape Smokey.

“At this point in time, work is well underway on Highway 104 – where we recently submitted our environmental approval,” Hines said. “I’m very pleased at the work that’s undertaken to date.”

Another double-fatal collision on December 16 along the 38-kilometre stretch of Highway 104 between Sutherland’s River in Pictou County and Addington Forks in Antigonish County underscored why the province is moving this project forward. The notorious section of the Trans-Canada Highway has seen over 400 crashes and more than a dozen fatalities since 2009.

“As far as the 104’s concern, we have run that forward from a projected completion period past 2030 now to 2023,” Hines said. “So we are very anxious to improve the safety along that line.”

Earlier this month, the department requested environmental approval for the twinning of Highway 104.

He noted the province is moving quickly and will have the RFP out by the fall of this year, with construction starting shortly after the contract is awarded.

“We wish we could do it quicker but it’s a big project and requires a lot of planning and pre-work to be done before we’re ready to go.”

The highway improvement plan is subject to the approval of the 2019-20 budget next spring.