Northern N.B. highways get $90M funding commitment

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SHIPPAGAN, N.B. — Transportation Minister Paul Robichaud committed the province Tuesday to spending $90 million over five years on highway links across northern New Brunswick.

Robichaud announced in Shippagan that the province wants another $90 million from the federal government to improve Routes 11 and 17 to create an arterial highway arching across the top of the province from Miramichi to St-Leonard.

Robichaud released the Route 11 and Route 17 Needs Study prepared by the firms Boissonnault McGraw and Roy Consultants Group.

The Department of Transportation commissioned this study last year after a group calling itself the Northern New Brunswick Coalition committed itself to the objective of upgrading Routes 11 and 17.

The coalition, which includes the trucking industry, business associations, municipalities and others, was co-chaired by Bathurst Mayor Jay Mersereau and Bertrand Mayor Gildard Chiasson.

The consultants estimate it would cost $144,130,000 to bring the existing 443.42 kilometres of road to a 90 kilometre-per-hour standard in rural areas from Miramichi to St-Leonard. This will include straightening and widening large sections of the two routes.

This does not include the cost for bypasses from Blanchard Road near Caraquet to Bertrand, and from Burnt Church to Tracadie-Sheila.

Robichaud said he has already spoken to federal Minister of Transport David Collenette and Labour Minister Claudette Bradshaw about a federal commitment.

He called this a first phase of the larger project, with the two proposed bypasses to come later.

Mayor Mersereau of Bathurst, who attended the announcement, called the proposed $144 million over five years only a beginning without the bypasses.

He said the coalition executive will review the report, and will likely hold a news conference to issue a response.

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