No Toll Increase for Cobequid Pass

Department of Transportation and Public Works (to Oct. 23 2007)

December 7, 2005 12:53 PM

Motorists travelling the Cobequid Pass on Highway 104 are getting a break from a scheduled toll increase.

Tolls for cars on the Cobequid Pass were scheduled to increase by 50 cents on Jan. 1. The toll for trucks was scheduled to increase by 50 cents per axle and 75 cents for recreational vehicles.

Transportation and Public Works Minister Ron Russell signed an agreement today, Dec. 7, with Highway 104 Western Alignment Corporation and corporate bond holders. The agreement gives the corporation flexibility in determining future toll increases, if current traffic levels are maintained.

"The original agreement was amended to give the Highway 104 Western Alignment Corporation the authority and ability to manage the timing of toll increases, which had previously been carved in stone," said Mr. Russell. "The corporation will still have to maintain certain financial targets."

Higher than expected traffic volumes and revenues are the reasons there will be no increase in the toll at this time. Mr. Russell said the amendment means the corporation will use any surplus cash to reduce future toll increases or pay down the corporation's debt.

He also said that Highway 104 Western Alignment Corporation expects to pay down the debt on the privately built four-lane highway at a faster rate than anticipated, provided current traffic levels are maintained. The corporation is projecting it will repay its debt eight years ahead of schedule, in 2018.

The postponement of the 2006 toll increase had to be negotiated and agreed to by the bond holders, who helped finance the construction of the highway.

"The trip between Truro and Amherst is safer since the Cobequid Pass was built," said Mr. Russell. "Traffic on this modern highway has exceeded all expectations. The extra revenue means the corporation can keep the rates where they are for at least another two years."

Car traffic is 71 per cent higher than forecast in 1997.

The current toll is $4 per car, $3 per axle for trucks over five tonnes and $5.25 per recreational vehicle.

The toll revenues pay for toll operations, repay investors and provide highway maintenance. Major repairs are funded through the corporation's reserve fund.

A daily average of 6,200 cars and 1,800 trucks travelled the Cobequid Pass last year.

The 45-kilometre highway runs between Masstown, Colchester Co., and Thomson Station, Cumberland Co., and opened in November 1997.



FOR BROADCAST USE:

     Motorists traveling the Cobequid Pass on Highway 104 are

getting a break from a scheduled toll increase.

     Tolls were going up 50 cents on January first, but

Transportation and Public Works Minister Ron Russell says heavier

traffic and higher revenue means current rates won't have to

increase.

     The Highway 104 Western Alignment Corporation expects to pay

down the debt on the privately built four-lane highway sooner

than expected.

     Cars pay four dollars to travel the Cobequid Pass, which

runs between Masstown, Colchester County, and Thomson Station,

Cumberland County.

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Media Contact: Linda Laffin
              Transportation and Public Works
              902-424-3289
              E-mail: llaffin@gov.ns.ca