WOODSTOCK, N.B. — Federal and provincial governments handed out $95 million for infrastructure improvements for two eastern Canada border towns, these funds could boost the provincial economy, increase trade and even save lives.
Federal Industry Minister Allan Rock and Premier Bernard Lord were in Woodstock Tuesday to make the multi-million dollar announcement for upgrades at the St. Stephen and Woodstock border crossings.
Ottawa and Fredericton will each contribute $30 million to build the Canadian section of a new international bridge between St. Stephen and Calais, Me., and construct a new four-lane highway between St. Stephen and Waweig, N.B. Both governments will also contribute $10 million to twin 12 kilometres of highway 95 linking Woodstock to Houlton, Me.
An additional $15 million is coming from the federal Border Infrastructure Fund to create new Canada Customs and Revenue Agency facilities on the new international bridge.
Rock said the announcement was part of a $600-million federal government program to improve border crossings.
“Right here in New Brunswick at Woodstock and St. Stephen we have two essential crossings not only important to New Brunswick but to all of Atlantic Canada,” Rock said.
Lord said the improvements were key to the province succeeding economically in the 21st century.
“Seventy-five per cent of the province’s GDP is directly linked to trade and export to either other provinces or the U.S., which is the highest percentage of any province in Canada,” he said. "That’s why we are committed to making sure we maintain open borders."
Ralph Boyd, Atlantic Provinces Trucking Association president, said the improvements are good news for truckers and trucking companies.
“Our customers will be served better by improvements to infrastructure and border ports,” Boyd said. "We’re in a far different climate today than we were pre 9/11, and it’s very important we continue our volume of trade with the U.S. and improvements at our border and infrastructure leading up to the borders will strengthen that trade relationship and ensure strong economies both north and south of the border.”
In Woodstock, the route for the twinned highway has been reviewed by the public and he expects construction to begin in 2005. The St. Stephen improvements are to be completed in three phases with the new highway and bridge to be open in 2007.
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