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Do You Want to Pay Tolls on the 107?

 Do you want to pay tolls to pay for twinning a portion of Highway 107? The Liberal government has already ranked imposing tolls on a twinning 107 as one of the most attractive of the eight highway twinning projects around the province. 

Your opportunity to let the Liberal government what you think about paying tolls is about to end. The article below is scheduled to appear in the March 2017 issue of the Cooperator. But because of the rapidly closing window to comment, we are publishing this article now on the Cooperator’s Facebook page and the Cooperator’s website

There are three more public meetings:

February 27—Monday— Lake Echo, Lake Echo Community Recreation- Auditorium, 3168 Highway 7, 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

March 1—Wednesday—Dartmouth, Best Western, 15 Spectacle Lake Dr. 

March 2—Thursday—Antigonish, Claymore Inn, 137 Church St. (rescheduled from February 13 due to weather)

 There are four other ways you can get your comments onto the official record:

1. Go to the Highway Twinning Public Consultations website, https://novascotia.ca/twinning/, and fill out the online survey.

2. Drop off your comments in person at:

Johnston Building

2nd floor – Attention Pam Menchenton

1672 Granville Street

Halifax, NS

3. Mail your comments to:

Feedback - Highway Twinning Feasibility Study

Nova Scotia DOT

PO Box 186,

Halifax, Nova Scotia

B3J 2N2

 

4. Fill out the feedback form on the home page of the Highway Twinning Public Consultations webpage,

https://novascotia.ca/twinning.

[NOTE: The text below will appear in the printed March issue of the Eastern Shore Cooperator.]

Pols Troll for Tolls

 By Richard Bell

 How much are you willing to pay to drive from Porters Lake to Bedford? The province is exploring using tolls to pay half of the $2.2 billion for twinning eight sections of 100-highways. And the initial report on the proposal contains strong indications that twinning the 107 is at the top of the list.

There is already strong opposition forming up against tolls on the 107. In response to a recent question on the Cooperator’s Facebook page about their willingness to pay tolls on the 107, Eastern Shore residents have been posting almost universally negative reactions.  

In separate interviews, neither District 2 City Councillor David Hendsbee nor MLA Kevin Murphy were enthusiastic about the proposal.  

And in a development that should worry proponents of this corridor, the Concerned Residents of Porters Lake, Lake Echo, Preston and Mineville Areas, having successfully defeated the C&D dump on Highway 7 in Porters Lake, are beginning to take a critical look at the twinning proposal.

Last summer, the Department of Transportation unveiled a major study (“Highway Twinning Feasibility Study”) outlining plans to spend $2.2 billion on twinning eight corridors on 100-series highways. This study ranked a proposed 33.3 km route from Porters Lake to Duke Street in Bedford as the 2nd most financially viable of the eight corridors.

Given current highway budgets, these projects could not be built for decades—without extra revenue that could come from tolls. So also included in last summer’s study was an exceedingly elaborate effort designed to show what Nova Scotia drivers would be willing to pay for reduced driving times, more predictable driving times, and increased safety. In releasing the study, Transportation Minister Geoff MacLellan insisted, “government has not made a decision to move forward with twinning through tolling.”

Buried deep in an explanation of the study’s methodology, there is an admission that “people generally have negative attitudes towards toll.” But these “negative attitudes towards toll” are almost invisible throughout the rest of the report. Instead, the study claims that a survey of roughly 1,000 people on the eight corridors shows that “In general, drivers in Nova Scotia are willing to pay 6 cents/km.”

Of the eight corridors, a comparison of their “financial viability” shows that the 107 would be a moneymaker. Using a toll of $0.06/km, the 107 section would generate the 2nd highest surplus of any of the 8 corridors, making it the 2nd most “financially viable” of the eight corridors.

Deb Day, one of the principal organizers of the Concerned Residents of Porters Lake, Lake Echo, Preston and Mineville Areas, told the Cooperator that the information she had seen thus far “raised more questions than answers. It’s very difficult to tell from the documentation even where the road’s going to be located.

Day said that as far as she could tell, all that was being done between Exits 17 and 19 was adding a lane. “It looks to me like they’re going to charge us for adding a lane to a road that’s already existing. We pay the same taxes as Halifax and Dartmouth and get no services. Just give us an extra lane and forget the toll.”

Councillor David Hendsbee had several reservations about the 107 proposal. If the province wanted to test the effectiveness of polls, he suggested building the segment between Burnside and Sackville and using it as an experiment to see how many people chose alternate routes. He also expressed concern that without paved shoulders, a toll road would increase the dangers of driving on the alternative routes, Highways 7 and 207.

MLA Kevin Murphy suggested looking at other alternatives before committing so much money. “Before we get to twinning,” Murphy said, “taxpayers should be asking whether we have done everything else we can do to make our highways safer, like dropping speed limits, making roads a foot or two wider, or increasing enforcement for speeding and texting while driving.”   

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