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Fuel tax hike to fund major transportation infrastructure overhaul

VICTORIA, B.C. -- B.C. is planning to launch a series of transportation investments to 'open up B.C.'s heartlands,'...

VICTORIA, B.C. — B.C. is planning to launch a series of transportation investments to ‘open up B.C.’s heartlands,’ the province says.

Premier, Gordon Campbell, says more than $600 million will be spent to improve rural and resource roads.

“Transportation infrastructure is vital to opening up new economic opportunities for our heartlands,” says Campbell. “As part of our Heartlands Economic Strategy, we are going to invest in new infrastructure all across our province so that British Columbians can reach their full economic potential, and access critical regional services to meet their needs.”

The priorities will include: $362 million on rehabilitating existing highways and remote roads; $210 million on strengthening rural and resource road infrastructure; and $37 million to be spent on roads supporting the oil and gas industry.

As part of the announcement, Campbell says the province will also pursue a $670 million upgrade for the Trans-Canada Hwy. through Kicking Horse Canyon. Highway improvements are also in store for Hwy. 97 in the Okanagan, Hwy. 95 in the Kootenays and Hwy. 3 between Hope and the Okanagan and Kootenays.

The Sea-to-Sky Highway will also garner attention and a new bridge will be built across Lake Okanagan at Kelowna.

Much of the funding for these projects will be gathered through a 3.5 cent per litre fuel tax increase effective Mar. 1. The province vows all money raised through the tax hike will go directly towards transportation infrastructure improvements.

“The transportation improvements we are launching will help create a wealth of new opportunities and revitalize economic growth in every region of our province,” says Campbell.

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