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N.B. happy with new megabucks procedure

FREDERICTON, N.B. -- The federal government's reversal on how to administer a $2-billion fund for megaprojects may...

FREDERICTON, N.B. — The federal government’s reversal on how to administer a $2-billion fund for megaprojects may mean faster approval to twin the last of the Trans-Canada Highway (TCH) here.

“The project isn’t tied to this fund, but this certainly gives us more flexibility,” says Andy Savoy, Liberal MP — Tobique-Mactaquac.

Federal Finance Minister Paul Martin is returning control of the proposed Strategic Infrastructure Foundation to the politicians.

The change of heart is widely viewed as a concession to back-bencher Liberals, who were furious with what they viewed as the lose of political control.

Martin insisted the move was necessary to deal with the “complexity” of the potential projects that would require extensive negotiations with participating provinces and municipalities.

“We are prepared to make commitments as quickly as possible,” Martin added, “and in fact we feel it important … to really proceed as quickly as we can.”

Among the potential projects is the twinning of the final sections of the Trans-Canada Highway (TCH) through New Brunswick. Savoy received assurances from the Prime Minister’s Office that the highway work is accounted for in the federal budget delivered in December.

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