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Lane designated for truckers, essential workers at N.B. provincial border

Essential service lane created at N.B. border
WATCH: Changes have been made at the border between Nova Scotia and New Brunswick to ensure truckers and essential service workers heading into New Brunswick won’t have to wait long. Shelley Steeves reports.

Truckers and essential workers travelling into New Brunswick will now have shorter wait times at the border as the coronavirus pandemic continues.

A lane designated specifically for truck drivers and essential service workers went into effect Friday morning in order to improve traffic flow at the Nova Scotia/New Brunswick border.

“So we can we can keep commercial traffic flowing as free as possible,” said New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs at the provincial border Friday.

In the one week since non-essential travel between provinces in Atlantic Canada has been permitted, travellers have been met with excessively long lines and wait times.

The newly-designated lane gives priority to commercial vehicles, essential workers and people heading to Prince Edward Island.

READ MORE: Nova Scotia introduces new measures for travellers from outside the Atlantic bubble

Truckers like Ian Goldberg welcome the change after a frustrating week trying to get freight to its destination on time.

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“We all have appointments and if we don’t get there on time, either we don’t unload and we have to wait until the next day or we pay a penalty,” said Goldberg.

Jean-Marc Picard with the Atlantic Provinces Trucking Association says he’s been calling on the province for almost a week to make the two-lane traffic change.

“We are an essential service and some loads are sensitive,” he said. “Drivers are only allowed to drive so many hours, so that comes into play as well.”

Read more: Coronavirus: New Brunswick truck driver questions lack of testing at border crossing

On Friday, truckers were waved on through while others continued to wait in a long line up prior to the two-lane split.

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Atlantic Bubble Travel Tips

Premier Blaine Higgs says the change was made in response to complaints from the commercial trucking industry.

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“My goal is to kind of visit some of the front-line workers. We’ve been to the hospitals and other areas that have been keeping us safe in our province, and to gauge the reaction of people coming through,” said Higgs.

“We’ve been doing this for a long time, but it becomes a little bit more sensitive.”

Higgs was met with mixed reviews during his trip to the border, where he went car-to-car speaking to travellers waiting for up to an hour to get into the province from Nova Scotia.

“In a case where people’s lives are being changed or disrupted, you get it first-hand,” said Higgs. “But I think in general people believe, ‘yes it is an inconvenience, yes it is a concern,’ but they respect the people that are keeping us safe.”

READ MORE: Here are the public health rules in each of the Atlantic bubble provinces

Higgs says the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia are working together to extend the split even further.

The two-lane system will also be implemented at the border with P.E.I.