The Highway 104 twinning project will connect the Highway 104 east of Sutherlands River to the section west of Antigonish in Nova Scotia, Canada.

Highway 104, which is part of the Trans-Canada Highway, runs from the New Brunswick Border at Fort Lawrence to Canso Causeway in Nova Scotia.

The project will cover 38km of the highway from Pictou County to West of Antigonish County, resulting in a 200km-long continuous twinned highway from the New Brunswick border to the east of Antigonish.

A contract for the design, construction, financing, operation, and maintenance of the twinning project was awarded to Dexter Nova Alliance in May 2020. Dexter Nova Alliance is a consortium of Dexter Construction and Nova Construction, with BBGI as an equity partner. BBGI owns a 50% equity interest in the project.

CBCL, along with HDR, Ernst & Young Orenda Corporate Finance, and R.A. Malatest & Associates, completed a feasibility study on the project. The project is backed by the Government of Nova Scotia and the Canadian federal government. Construction is expected to begin in June 2020 and the project is expected to be completed by 2023.

Highway 104 twinning project details

The twinning project consists of three segments, Sutherlands River to Barneys River Station, Barneys River Station to James River, and James River to Antigonish.

“The project will result in a 200km-long continuous twinned highway from the New Brunswick border to the east of Antigonish.”

The Sutherlands River to Barneys River Station segment and the James River to Antigonish segment will include twinning of the existing alignment, which will form 28km-long new twinned lanes. A new four-lane twinned highway of approximately 10km will be constructed from the Barneys River Station to James River section, which will divert from the existing Highway 104 alignment east of the Barneys River to reconnect west of Exit 30.

The project will also comprise the addition, replacement or alteration of structures, which will include modifications to the James River interchange, the construction of a new interchange at Barneys River Station, and the development of nine watercourse crossings.

Dexter Nova Alliance will also be responsible for the ongoing operation and maintenance of the twinned section of the highway, along with 25km of the existing highway. According to the agreement, the maintenance work will include snow removal, pothole repair and repaving for the next 20 years.

Financing for Highway 104 twinning project

The project is being developed with an investment of C$717.9m ($509.3m), of which C$364.3m ($258.4m) will be used for construction, while C$196.4m ($139.3m) will be allocated for ongoing operations and maintenance and upgrades of the existing portion of the highway during the 20-year period. The rest of the amount will be utilised for professional fees, financing and other costs.

The federal government is providing C$90m ($63.8m) in funding for the project under the National Trade Corridors Fund.

The Government of Nova Scotia is investing C$195m ($148.35m) in the twinning of Highway 104.

BBGI will fund the cash consideration for its interest in the project from existing cash resources and/or debt facilities.

Project benefits

Highway 104 has witnessed 320 collisions on the untwinned stretch since 2009. The project is expected to reduce the risk of intersection-related, head-on and angle collisions, single vehicle, rear-end, and sideswipe collisions.

The twinning of Highway 104 will create a safer, affordable and more efficient highway, allowing better transportation of people and cargo. The project is designed to benefit the overall community with minimum impact on the environment.

The highway twinning project is being developed with a public-private-partnership approach, which will lead to much earlier completion as compared to a traditional build model.

It will also generate several jobs during the construction phase, address congestion, and be able to accommodate growing vehicular traffic in the future. The improved highway will link the New Brunswick border to Newfoundland and Labrador via the Marine Atlantic Ferry Service at North Sydney, boosting the trade and transportation corridor.