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MLA dismisses study of highways in north as vote-buying gimmick

FREDERICTON, N.B. -- Although the provincial government says it will spend $60,000 to analyze the costs to improve...

FREDERICTON, N.B. — Although the provincial government says it will spend $60,000 to analyze the costs to improve Highways 11 and 17, the Official Opposition is calling the move an election tactic.

Transportation Minister Percy Mockler says the engineering firms Roy Consultants Group and Boissonnault-McGraw are partnering to carry out the study. The two groups will review the existing highway corridor, recommend strategies to improve the safety and efficiency of the routes, and estimate the costs of the work, and are to submit a report to the provincial government at the end of April.

But Liberal Leader Shawn Graham says the announcement is too little, too late.

Mayors and residents of the northern communities have been calling on the government to fix the roads for years and have waited too long, he says.

“Today they announced another study on road building for the north,” he said. “After four years into their mandate, they want to study how to improve Highway 11 and Highway 17 – simply unacceptable.”

Mockler says Moncton area MP Claudette Bradshaw, the province’s representative in the federal cabinet, had mentioned the $90 million from the federal government would be available.

Since then, Mockler says, the province hasn’t heard back from Ottawa.

Graham says if the provincial government was serious about the project, it would have listened to the public years ago.

“It’s a simple gimmick and an attempt to buy votes prior to the next election. People in this region of the province know the government does not build roads and they’ll be judged harshly accordingly.”

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