The Utility and Review Board has ordered the province to compensate a company owned by Antigonish businessman Steve Smith $8.1 million. The compensation is for the province’s expropriation of 11.3 acres for twinning the 104 highway. The land, in Lower South River, was owned by Smith’s company S & D Smith Central Supplies Limited.
The compensation of 8.1 million includes the market value of the land taken, reduction of property value and business losses resulting from the expropriation.
In addition, the board is charging 10 per cent annual interest on the market value of the land as well reduction of property value from May, 2001 for delays by the province in determining compensation to Smith’s company. That adds another $2.2 million to the compensation, bringing the total to more than 10 million.
The board says Smith realized that during discussions of the twinned highway, the approved route would sever his property leaving him no room for expansion. As a result, Smith began to look for alternative sites for the “big box” store he planned, which later was built in the Post Road area.
Barney’s River Fire Chief Joe MacDonald is all smiles. MacDonald finally got what he has long lobbied for, a twinning of Highway 104 between Sutherland’s River and Antigonish. That 38 kilometre section is one of three 100-series highways that will be twinned by the province over the next seven years, without tolls at a cost of 390 million dollars.
MacDonald says his firefighters have been called out to too many collisions on that section of highway. He says a twinned road will lead to fewer and less serious accidents.
MacDonald says strong public support was a big factor in convincing the province to twin the highway. Twinning of the Highway 104 section is expected to cost 285 million dollars.
The provincial government is committing $390 million to twin three sections of 100 series highways without the use of tolls. That includes the 38 kilometre section of the 104 between Sutherland’s River and Antigonish. Completion is expected within seven years. Transportation Minister Geoff MacLellan says after 14 public meetings, the province did not hear overwhelming support for paying a toll for twinned highways, but Nova Scotians wanted immediate action to improve roads.
Other twinning projects include Highway 101 from Three Mile Plains to Falmouth, Highway 103 from Tatallon to Hubbards and the Burnside connector in Halifax. The funding also includes $30 million for safety improvements on untwinned highways.
The province has approached the federal government under its infrastructure program for matching funds for the projects
The province has compiled the feedback officials received from public sessions and on-line on whether to twin 100-series highways and using tolls to get the work done sooner. Not surprisingly, those who attended meetings in New Glasgow and Antigonish were most supportive of twinning as the only option to improve highways in their area. There was also support in Port Hawkesbury for twinning, but it was not as entrenched. However, there’s still a significant number in the local area who are opposed to twinning, 23 to 25 per cent, who left written comments in Antigonish and New Glasgow.
The issue is divisive as those in other communities, such as Lake Echo, Bridgewater, Chester, Digby, Shelburne and Windsor, felt there were other options to twinning.
The report concludes the most support for using tolls to twin, would be on the 104 – between Sutherlands River and Antigonish, with other sections to Port Hawkesbury also potential candidates.
Transportation Minister Geoff MacLellan says government will be making a decision based on what it heard early next week.
Five Antigonish businesses are seeking 3.6 million dollars in compensation from the province for losses resulting from the twinning of Highway 104.
The five businesses filed documents with the Utility and Review Board seeking the compensation under the Expropriation Act from construction of the first phase of the104 twinning that opened in 2012. The businesses claim changes to the 104 impaired access to their properties and reduced market value.
The largest compensation claim comes from the owners of the Claymore Inn; they are seeking 2.6 million dollars. The other four businesses, Justamere Cafe, Pleasant Valley Nurseries, Down to Earth Art Gallery and Dreamcatchers Deli and Treats are asking for compentation ranging from 210 thousand to just over 300-thousand dollars.
A public consultation meeting was held last night in Antigonish to discuss the feasibility of twinning the highway between New Glasgow and Antigonish. The meeting, which featured feedback from nearly 200 people was put on by the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal.
Bruce Fitzner was one of the representatives from the department, and is Executive Director of Infrastructure Programs. He said each meeting around the province has revealed varying opinions regarding twinning and tolling.
Some communities that have been recommended to receive twinning through the province have strongly rejected the idea during these public consultations. In Antigonish, however, one thing was made very clear to him:
Antigonish MLA Randy Delorey was in the house to listen to the public provide feedback regarding the twinning of highway in his riding. Delorey has received a great deal of feedback from his constituents, and he has been consistently hearing a request to twin the highway. After last night’s meeting, however, Delorey says he isn’t sure where people stand on tolls:
If people were unable to attend, you can fill out an online survey to give your input on the topic. The website is novascotia.ca/twinning/
The provincial government has released updated information on a feasibility study on twinning sections of 100 series highways using tolls. This information will be considered in upcoming public consultations, with the first one tomorrow in New Glasgow. A section of the 104 between Sutherland’s River and Antigonish, is ranked third.
It’s estimated twinning along that section would mean almost 12 fewer accidents per year. Audrey Muir of consultant CBCL also offered some additional details on costs and potential tolls for this section at a technical briefing in Halifax today.
Another section between Taylor’s Road and the Canso Causeway is ranked 5th. Two other local sections between St. Peter’s to Sydney is 7th and from Port Hawkesbury and Port Hastings is 8th.
Provincial Transportation Department spokesperson Bruce Fitzner say feedback from the 12 public sessions and online will be considered by government when a final decision is made.
At the public consultations, the public will be asked their opinions on the current condition of the 100 series highways. They will also be asked whether they think twinning is the only option to improve the highways and if they would support paying tolls to get the roads built sooner.
A local fire chief who has long advocated for twinning Highway 104 between Sutherland’s River and Antigonish is pleased the
province is moving forward with consultations.
The Transportation Department is seeking public feedback in a series of meetings beginning next Tuesday in New Glasgow. Local meetings are planned for Antigonish on February 13th, February 22nd in River Bourgeois and Port Hawkesbury on February 23rd. Last summer, the province released a feasibility study of twinning eight sections of 100 series highways with tolls. The 104 between Sutherland’s River and Antigonish was listed in the top three.
Joe MacDonald of Barney’s River says this is an important step.
MacDonald and the Twin Highway 104 committee will be hosting another session February 2nd at the Beech Hill Fire Station to continue to build support for twinning before the Antigonish Consultation Meeting.
The provincial government will seek input from Nova Scotians over the winter on a feasibility study of
twinning eight sections of 100 series highways with tolls.
Locally, meetings will be held next Tuesday at the Pictou County Wellness Centre in New Glasgow, Feburary 13th at the Claymore Inn in Antigonish, February 22nd at the Tara Lynne Community Centre in River Bourgeois and February 23rd at the Port Hawkesbury Civic Centre. All sessions will take place from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Feedback can also be submitted on line or by mail.
The report, released last July ranked the feasibility of eight sections of 100 series highways based on safety, cost versus projected revenues from tolls and traffic volumes. The study used benchmark toll amounts of six to 10 cents per kilometre based on the results of a “willingness to pay” study.
A section of the 104 between Sutherland’s River and Antigonish was ranked in the top three. It would cost almost 258 million dollars to build.
Two other local sections of the 104 were ranked lower, between Taylor’s Road and Port Hawkesbury. They are listed as potential candidates for twinning. The 104 between St. Peter’s to Sydney is listed as an unlikely candidate for twinning.