News Release Archive

Construction began in earnest today on the Highway 104 Western
Alignment, which will be built in 20 months, at a cost of
slightly below $113 million under an agreement with the Atlantic
Highways Corporation, Transportation and Public Works Minister
Richie Mann announced this evening.

"We entered negotiations with the goal of building a four-lane,
wide median road at the lowest cost and over the shortest
construction period. Yesterday, we reached agreement in substance
with Atlantic Highways Corporation to achieve those goals, and we
were able to sign an interim agreement that would allow work to
start today," said Mr. Mann. "Best of all, we've been able to do
it and keep the initial tolls at $3.00 per car and $2.00 per axle
for trucks."

"There are no government guarantees on the revenue, or of the
traffic projections over the life of the project. The province
has a direct commitment to construction of $55 million that is
available under the Canada-Nova Scotia Strategic Highways
Improvement Program, and private financing will be raised for the
remaining cost," said the minister.

The design, construction, and operation of the road will be done
through the Highway 104 Western Alignment Corporation, which will
collect and disburse the toll revenue. Newcourt Credit Group will
underwrite the toll revenue bonds for the private financing by
the corporation. The final agreements will be signed when
financing has been completed.

"In order to ensure the 20-month schedule and because we have
confidence that the financing will be completed, we have entered
this interim agreement to allow construction to begin today,"
Mr. Mann told the legislature. Financing is expected to be
complete before the end of April.

The government has also agreed to:

     *The establishment of a contingency fund of $4.25 million to
be available in certain limited circumstances, and to fund the
corporation in case of events beyond the control of the
contractor, such as unforeseen environmental requirements.

     * The maximum speed limit of 80 kilometres per hour on the
existing Highway 104 will be accompanied by a lifting of the
control of access on all sections of that road to allow
development of the very desirable recreational and residential
potential throughout the valley.

     * The enforcement of the "local pick-up and delivery only"
requirement for trucks over a certain weight using the existing
road. Highway inspectors will be assigned to this task.

     * The Department of Transportation and Public Works will
carry out regular maintenance on the Western Alignment, for an
initial fee of $650,000 per year, to be paid out of toll revenue,
with provision to increase that charge in the first five years,
linked to inflation. This work will be done by department

Major maintenance, including the scheduled resurfacing of the
Western Alignment, will be the responsibility of the corporation. 
All maintenance will be funded by the project, through the toll

"The negotiations have been long and demanding, but we have
achieved our goals: a four-lane wide median highway at a reduced
cost; an expedited schedule; a reasonable toll level; and
non-recourse financing that limits the financial liability of the
Province of Nova Scotia," the minister said.


Contact: Donna McCready 902-424-8687

jlw                        April 1, 1996     7:15 p.m.