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Four-lane link to U.S. put on hold

FREDERICTON, N.B. -- Plans for a four-lane highway link between Saint John and the U.S. border are being put on the...

FREDERICTON, N.B. — Plans for a four-lane highway link between Saint John and the U.S. border are being put on the back burner.

In the past, the province has been slowly extending the two-lane highway west of the city toward a new international border crossing near St. Stephen. Now, the completion of that project will take a back seat to the twinning of the remaining two-lane sections of the Trans-Canada Highway.

“Our main priority right now is to get the federal government to the table so that we can finish twinning the TCH,” says Transportation Minister Margaret Ann Blaney. “Eventually, we want to complete the twinning of all the roads in our portion of the National Highway System, including Route 1.”

While the Trans-Canada bypasses the Port City, a four-lane link to the national highway is nearing completion. Route 1 east of the city is now twinned as far as Norton, and by 2004 the city will have a four-lane connector to the TCH at Moncton.

The final section (15 kilometres) including the Sussex bypass, is expected to be completed within two years.

The link to the west, which would provide high-speed access to the U.S. border, appears to be a long distance thought.

Blaney says that the full twinning of the western half of Route 1, a cost of more than $200-million, is not on the province’s drawing board. Maine’s decision to abandon plans to twin Route 9 from Bangor to Calais is a leading reason for that decision.

The Tories are pushing Ottawa for a new highway funding agreement, to complete the twinning of the Trans-Canada. With the completion of the Fredericton-to-Moncton highway later this fall, there will be a fully twinned highway from the provincial capital to the Nova Scotia border.

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