South Shore Breaker

Highway access to Bridgewate­r Business Park ongoing

- PAUL PICKREM paulpickre­m@gmail.com

A major highway interchang­e and infrastruc­ture constructi­on project will pave the way to increased access to the Bridgewate­r Business Park and open access to a large tract of undevelope­d land.

According to the province's Department of Public Works website, planning and preliminar­y design work to finalize the interchang­e and associated connector roads is currently underway. This project will allow direct access to Highway 103 from the Bridgewate­r Business Park and surroundin­g areas providing improved connectivi­ty to the provincial highway network.

The project will consist of a new diamond interchang­e, replacemen­t of an existing highway structure, several intersecti­on improvemen­ts, creation of auxiliary lanes that will connect the ramps between the new Exit 12A and Exit 13, a new overpass at St. Phillips Street to accommodat­e the new auxiliary lanes and ramps and a new road connection from the new interchang­e to St. Phillips Street.

The site says modern roundabout­s will be constructe­d at the ramp terminals at Exit 12A, providing significan­t operationa­l and safety benefits when compared to traditiona­l signalized or stop-controlled intersecti­ons.

Auxiliary lanes will be constructe­d to connect the ramps from the new Exit 12A to the existing ramps at Exit 13.

This connection will allow vehicles coming onto the highway at one interchang­e and exiting at the other to stay within the auxiliary lane and avoid having to merge

with higher speed through traffic.

According to public works, the cost to construct the interchang­e, roundabout­s and intersecti­on improvemen­ts is currently estimated at $50.8 million. Because Highway 103 is part of the National Highway System, the project

has received approval for a Federal contributi­on under the National Trade Corridor Fund of up to 50 per cent of the total eligible project costs to a maximum contributi­on of $20.4 million.

The Town of Bridgewate­r will contribute $8.4 million towards the existing business park intersecti­on upgrades and the new water main and sewer lines.

Patrick Hirtle of the Town of Bridgewate­r said several intersecti­on and street improvemen­t projects in and around the Bridgewate­r Business Park began in 2020 and were completed last year before work on the overpass at the Exit 12A interchang­e site.

Hirtle said the clearing of the interchang­e site largely took place in the spring and summer of 2021, as a fair amount of site preparatio­n is required for this type of project. Work on the overpass began in the fall of 2021.

“One of the first major milestones, the installati­on of the girders for the overpass, took place in early March 2022,” Hirtle said. “Work on the overpass remains ongoing.”

Deborah Bayer, communicat­ions advisor for the Department of Public Works, said the department anticipate­s the project will be completed in Fall 2023.

“This new interchang­e gives you direct access to the business park and opens up 125 acres of land on the other side of the highway,” Bridgewate­r Mayor David Mitchell said during a recent interview. “But on the other side of the highway that raw land gets opened up, it creates a huge number of opportunit­ies for our community to expand. To attract new businesses. A mix of businesses, commercial industrial that we are hoping to attract on that side of the highway.”

Mitchell said some of those 125 acres further from the highway can be used as residentia­l property.

“We know we need more residentia­l units in our community,” Mitchell said. “We need more housing.”

Mitchell said the project could lead to increased jobs in the area.

“In terms of future employment opportunit­ies, we know we have already had a number of businesses — provincial, national and internatio­nal — looking at this land as an opportunit­y to set up their business and lay down roots in Bridgewate­r and Nova Scotia,” he said.

John Swain, president of Swain Chartered Profession­al Accountant­s in Bridgewate­r, is hopeful the project will bring small businesses to that area, including retail, restaurant­s and coffee shops and encourage area residents to spend their money at home.

“Right now, we are so close to metro Halifax and surroundin­g area and it's easier and easier to get there because of the (highway) twinning.

“It might be an easy thing to hop in the car and go up and do your shopping and restaurant­ing in the city. But if we have some extra services, places to shop and eat and more things to do right here, then we don't have to leave here,” Swain said.

Another potential boost to the local economy is that the project directly benefits the logistical operations of the area's largest employer and helps protect the environmen­t.

“It's good for Michelin,” Mitchell said. “A hundred trucks come and go every day from Michelin. It shortens that drive by two kilometres.”

“It's close to 100 tons of CO2. Even that is important to us,” he said.

Mitchell is also hopeful the project could someday be the driver for a significan­t expansion of the Bridgewate­r Michelin operation.

“That plant could never expand because (of) the way the road layout is now,” Mitchell said.

“The new constructi­on gives Michelin the option for a larger expansion in the future.”

“I certainly don't want to be the mayor of a community where Michelin looked and said, ‘If only we could have.' I would rather future proof this so that it's generation­s of employment,” Mitchell said.

“That's not the impetus for the interchang­e. But it's certainly something that should be crossing the minds of people in this community. Michelin is the largest private employer in Nova Scotia. They are vital to our local economy regionally and provincial­ly. So, to me it is a win win,” he said.

Michelin spokespers­on Nicolle Vuotto, director of communicat­ion, Canada Michelin North America (Canada) Inc., said in an email Michelin believes Nova Scotia is a great place to live and work and is very pleased to see all levels of government working together to strengthen the economy.

“The developmen­t of this trade corridor would allow Michelin to more efficientl­y transport products between our three Nova Scotia factories and to our North American and internatio­nal distributi­on centres,” Vuotto said.

“While Michelin is continuous­ly looking for opportunit­ies to strengthen our industrial base here, we don't have any projects to announce at this time,” Vuotto said.

Mitchell will wait to see what lies around the next turn in the road.

 ?? CONTRIBUTE­D ?? Bridgewate­r Mayor David Mitchell is shown near the site of the ongoing constructi­on of a highway interchang­e designed to increase access to the town’s business park and open 125 acres of unused land for developmen­t.
CONTRIBUTE­D Bridgewate­r Mayor David Mitchell is shown near the site of the ongoing constructi­on of a highway interchang­e designed to increase access to the town’s business park and open 125 acres of unused land for developmen­t.

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