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N.S. investing $300M to improve roads, highways and bridges

N.S. investing $300M to improve roads, highways and bridges
WATCH: The province is investing at least $300 million to improve and upgrade roads, highways and bridges in the 2020-21 fiscal year. Alicia Draus reports.

The government of Nova Scotia says it has 150 construction projects planned for the next year that are intended to make roads and highways safer.

The Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal released its five-year highway plan Wednesday, which commits $300 million in investments this year.

READ MORE: N.S. Highway 104 twinning project gets environmental approval from province

Some highways will see passing lanes, roundabouts and interchanges added to improve safety.

Twelve projects will focus on twinning portions of Highways 101, 103 and 104, and the Sackville-Bedford-Burnside Connector on Highway 107.

Another 12 projects focus on bridge rehabilitation and replacement. Listed among the major bridge projects are the Bennery Brook Bridge on Highway 102, the Shubenacadie River bridge on Highway 102 and the South Maitland or Gosse Bridge on Route 326.

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All 12 bridge projects have a combined cost of $35 to $40 million. More than last year’s $29 million on bridges, but a far cry from what’s needed according to a report by the auditor general released in May.

READ MORE: NS bridges not adequately monitored says Auditor General

The report found that 600 of the provincially-owned bridges in Nova Scotia are in poor condition and require attention. According to the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal it would take $2.1 billion over the next 10 years to get the bridges to a sustainable condition.

In May, Auditor General Michael Pickup noted that would require $210 million a year. He also found that if the province continues at its current rate it could take about 200 years to complete the work.

On Wednesday, Transportation Minister Lloyd Hines says they’re doing a review to address the deficit.

“We are placing a special emphasis on our bridge replacement program and looking for support from government to increase the number of dollars that we have for our bridges,” said Hines.

But the minister maintained the department is keeping an eye on the situation, and are aware what bridges need to be prioritized.

“We have a very tight handle on our bridges, we inspect them all the time,” he said.

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This year’s highway plan also outlines a few new projects for the year, including construction of the Bridgewater Interchange in Lunenburg County and the construction of a new roundabout at the intersection of the Highway 105 and Route 252 in Inverness County.