Federal and provincial government officials announced on Monday that plans are in the works to extend Quebec’s Highway 35 by nearly nine kilometres in the southbound direction — but that still leaves it 4.5 kilometres short of reaching the U.S. border.
Authorities also aren’t saying when the highway will be finished because they are worried about competition and privacy in the bidding process.
“You would understand that in the public interest you don’t want us to be too specific,” Infrastructure Minister François-Philippe Champagne told reporters at a press conference in Pike River.
The federal government is planning to provide $82 million in funding to Quebec to build the 8.9-kilometre extension but the costs could increase as Quebec will have to pay its share as well.
Provincial authorities still don’t know when the 8.9-kilometre section will be complete, but they could confirm a public call for tenders will begin this year.
“We should be able to start the construction as early as next year,” Treasury Board President Christian Dubé said.
Construction on Highway 35 began in the 1960s. The highway is supposed to link to Interstate 89 in Vermont creating a continuous highway between Montreal and Boston but Quebec never finished its side of the highway network.
Gerry Simard, a cabinet maker in Pike River, is disappointed the stretch was never finished.
“Stupidity. Red tape. Just nonsense,” said Simard.
Simard has been running his shop on Route 133 for years. He says he would love to see the heavy traffic diverted away.
“You take your life in your hands trying to cross the road here,” he told Global News.
Vermont Transportation Secretary Joe Flynn was on hand for Monday’s announcement. He says there are 1 million vehicles that cross the Canada-U.S. border at Highgate Springs every year.
Flynn is also hoping to learn when the highway will be finished so that upgrades to the U.S. border crossing at Highgate Springs can be completed.
“We’re just asking the same questions I think everybody is asking,” Flynn said. “We’re really looking for timelines.”
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