News Release Archive

The odds of private police ever patrolling any Nova Scotia
highway are astronomical, Transportation and Public Works
Minister Don Downe said today.

"When investors pledged to put up $61 million to help finance
Cobequid Pass, the province said we would enforce our own laws,"
said Mr. Downe. "If the province is negligent on a consistent
basis, then the lenders can ask for enforcement to be
strengthened. Private enforcement is an extreme last resort.

"This is contract law. There's even a clause that takes into
account the possibility of war and invasion. We've got to keep
this in perspective."

Provisions in the Omnibus Agreement call for the province to
restrict express-truck traffic greater that five tonnes from
using the old highway. 

"The Province of Nova Scotia has every intention of enforcing its
trucking laws on this route just as it does throughout the
province," said Mr. Downe. "Vehicle compliance officers operate
across the province to ensure trucks follow weight and road
restrictions while making sure vehicles conform to National
Safety Code standards.

"Enforcement measures covered in the 104 contract deal only with
ensuring that express-truck traffic uses the new route. We'll use
automatic traffic counters, and if there's a problem, our
officers will monitor the road more closely."

Mr. Downe said critics of the public-private partnership used to
build the Cobequid Pass continue to ignore the fundamental reason
the highway is being built--safety.

"I know truckers, and I doubt that too many would avoid a $7.50
toll to drive a highway known for fatal head-on crashes," he
said. "We're trying to avoid exactly that scenario. That's why we
want trucks off the old 104 before another winter is at our

Mr. Downe said terms of the agreement have been public since the
release of the Omnibus Agreement in June. Transportation and
Public Works backed the public release of the document throughout
a Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy case that
ended this summer. 

"To continually cherry-pick at the 86 clauses in this agreement
is little more than political opportunism," said the minister.
"Government wanted protection for citizens. The investors wanted
protection for their investment. Through this negotiation, we
both got what we wanted."

Mr. Downe said many routes throughout Nova Scotia are restricted
from use by trucks. Drivers who violate the restrictions face
stiff fines, often based on weight of their vehicles in excess of
legal limits.

Express trucks using the old 104 will be fined $250. 

The notion of private enforcement is not unique, said Mr. Downe.
He pointed to the Halifax Bridge Commission, which employs its
own security staff who can issue citations for speeding or
driving through the toll-gate without paying.

On Cobequid Pass, drivers who don't pay tolls will be videotaped
and reported to the RCMP.

Mr. Downe assured area residents that the old 104 will continue
to receive top-notch maintenance for snow-clearing and repairs.

Under the Omnibus Agreement, the province agreed not to build a
competing road to the Cobequid Pass for 30 years or twin the
existing road. Twinning the existing road and creating a
controlled-access highway was ruled out long ago because it would
have split Wentworth Valley communities down the middle. New
service roads would then have been needed for area residents.

"In a couple of months, we're going to have two safe routes
through the Wentworth Valley. One of them is still completely
free," Mr. Downe said. "This wouldn't be happening without the
public-private partnership."


Contact: Chris Welner
         Transportation and Public Works
         902-424-8687 or 499-0032

jlw                           Sept. 8, 1997      4:50 p.m.