GUYSBOROUGH: Following last month’s release of the province’s five year highway improvement plan, the transportation minister said the plan lets residents know where and when they can expect road work in their areas.

Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal Minister Lloyd Hines, MLA for Guysborough-Eastern Shore-Tracadie, released the plan on December 19. Hines described the document as a rolling plan which identifies future projects and brings cohesive planning to the highway and infrastructure repair and upgrade process.

The minister said preliminary work on the completion of Highway 104 twinning is set for this year, though final construction won’t start for another 18-24 months. He also mentioned safety upgrades to Trans-Canada Highway 105, and there is an increase from $10 million to $20 million for the gravel roads program.

“Previously, gravel road improvement was taken out of maintenance funding and the maintenance funding was taking a hit from that and preventing us from getting work done,” said Hines. “So last year, we put $10 million in capital commitment into the budget for gravel road improvement across the province and this year, in this budget… when we get the budget passed it will be $20 million. Really this money is targeted at improving the road condition itself which in the long run saves us money.”

Inverness MLA Allan MacMaster said he was pleased to see some of the projects announced for his riding, noting work is being completed on Captain’s River Bridge on Route 19 in Harbourview, with repairs to completed in advance of about seven kilometres of paving starting just north of the Joe Effie Road toward Port Hood. He noted the Mabou Harbour Road will receive seven kilometres of paving, while Centotaph Road will receive just over three kilometres of repaving to complete a section ending in West Bay. MacMaster also said gravel roads will benefit, with East Skye Glen Road (6.7 kilometres), the Lake Ainslie Chapel Road (3.4 kilometres) and the Whycocomagh-Port Hood Road in Roseburn (5.6 kilometres) set to receive work.

“I strongly believe the government should restore the RIM rural maintenance budgets which have been reduced by about 25 per cent each year since 2010,” stated MacMaster. “Some of our rural roads are being neglected and this new gravel road program is going to be needed to re-construct roads that have deteriorated.”