Road cash for the North a must (June 03, 2002)

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BATHURST, N.B. — The province of New Brunswick is being urged to put more money into its northern road network.

Independent truckers on the Acadian Peninsula are making demands saying they are living in fear of losing their trucks and livelihoods.

“The government has a ‘rainy day’ fund,” says Marcel Boudreau, vice-president of the Independent Truckers’ Association of the Acadian Peninsula. “Well, we truckers of the Acadian Peninsula, find that the rainy days are here and we’d like the government to take $10 million or $15 million out of that fund. We have 17 per cent of the road network in the North and so we’re asking for 17 per cent of the budget.”

The truckers’ group says the government should shift their spending habits dramatically to $28.6 million rather than the $7.5 million allotted. Protests are one possibility being discussed by the angry truck drivers.

Most members of the association primarily own gravel trucks and rely heavily on road building work to earn a living.

New Brunswick Transportation Minister Percy Mockler says the department’s capital works budget grew by 36 per cent for 2002-2003 compared to the previous year. However, the lion’s share of that bigger budget is earmarked for the twinning of the Trans Canada Highway. Although any contractor in the province can bid on that work, independent truckers in the North say this work isn’t as easily accessible to them.

“We can’t leave here to go work elsewhere in the province,” says Boudreau. “Truckers have to be hired within the regions [where the contracts are awarded.] We have to stay in the regions and so we’re afraid that we’ll lose our rigs.”

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