N.S. government rejects $220m plan for rail, truck corridor into Halifax

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HALIFAX - The Nova Scotia government has rejected a plan to develop a consolidated truck and rail corridor into Halifax, saying Wednesday the cost of the project is too high.
A report examining the feasibility of the project put the cost at more than $220 million, considerably more than original estimates of about $80 million.
The proposal was part of the Atlantic Gateway initiative and called for using existing rail lines into Halifax as a route for both truck and container traffic to and from the port.
Transportation Minister Brooke Taylor said the report, prepared for the government by McCormick Rankin Corp., was given ''careful evaluation'' before officials decided to pass on the project.
''Basically, it's cost-prohibitive at this particular point in time,'' Taylor said in an interview. ''Cost aside, I think it would have been a terrific project.''
The integrated corridor was one of several projects being considered under the province's gateway initiative.
Sue Uteck, a Halifax councillor, said she wasn't surprised by the province's decision.
''I had heard from behind the scenes that the cost was escalating at an alarming rate,'' she said.
Premier Rodney MacDonald has been pushing for the development of so-called Atlantic Gateway projects.
Such projects would see upgrades to transportation routes and ports, to increase the flow of container traffic through the province.
Uteck said it's important that the money that would have gone to the corridor proposal not ''walk down the road as we did in the Commonwealth Games.''
''We had the opportunity (and) $400 million walked down the road, and I don't want to see that happen for the Port of Halifax,'' she said.
The city dropped a bid for the 2014 Commonwealth Games amid concerns about soaring costs to host them.
''It's vital that we have a solution for the Port of Halifax. I think it's the second-largest generator of jobs in our economic index in HRM. We can't afford to lose it,'' said Uteck.
The plan called for converting part of an existing CN railway cut that runs along Halifax harbour to accommodate trucks travelling from the Port of Halifax to Highway 102 and facilitate container traffic.
Atlantic Gateway projects are intended to make Nova Scotia the gateway to North America for trade coming through the Suez Canal from India and other parts of Asia.
Liberal Leader Stephen McNeil said the idea was ''ill-conceived'' by government from the beginning.
''They wasted precious dollars in looking at this project, in terms of analyzing it,'' he said. ''From the very beginning, it did not make sense to carve up our city, to move trucks from one street to another to go to an inefficient port.''

Organizations: McCormick Rankin, Commonwealth Games, CN

Geographic location: Halifax, Nova Scotia, HRM North America Suez Canal India Asia

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