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P.E.I. proposes $65M highway project


June 28, 2016
By Province of P.E.I.

June 28, 2016 – The Government of Prince Edward Island is seeking federal funding for a new highway project that would redirect the Trans-Canada Highway around the Town of Cornwall, P.E.I. making travel safer and allowing for more business development in the town.

“The Cornwall Perimeter Highway would fulfil a longstanding request by Cornwall residents to re-route the thousands of tractor-trailers and cars that pass through the heart of their town every day while crossing the province,” said Premier Wade MacLauchlan. “This is a strategic infrastructure investment that would bring the highway up to today‚s safety standards, improve the transport of goods and benefit all Islanders.”

Member of Parliament for Malpeque, Hon. Wayne Easter, welcomes the project.

“The Trudeau government’s federal infrastructure program was developed to stimulate the economy and improve infrastructure,” Easter said. “The announcement today does both, and provides the public with the information needed for long term community and business development.”

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The Department of Transportation, Infrastructure and Energy has applied to the federal New Building Canada Fund for 50 percent funding for the first phase of the project, which would include new roundabouts on the Trans-Canada at the Maypoint intersection and at the Poplar Island (COWS) intersection. Application for the second phase, a six-kilometre route running from New Haven to the York Point Road, will be submitted in the coming weeks.

The cost of construction for both phases is estimated to be $65 million, making it one of the largest projects ever undertaken in the province.

With more than 5,000 residents, Cornwall is the fourth largest town in the province. It is home to many young families and three schools which are attended by 1,600 students.

Transportation, Infrastructure and Energy Minister Paula Biggar said the route would improve safety on one of the busiest stretches of the Trans Canada Highway. The highway between Maypoint Road and York Point Road sees up to 26,400 vehicles per day, while up to 17,200 vehicles travel the stretch between York Point Road and Meadowbank Road each day. From 2009 to 2013, there were 159 collisions on the highway between Clyde River and Maypoint Road, although none were fatal.

“The Cornwall Perimeter Highway would be accessed through roundabouts and interchanges, which are much safer than the existing intersections. This would reduce the likelihood of accidents and the severity of collisions,” said Biggar.

The bypass would reduce driving time for people crossing the province and lower greenhouse gas emissions by removing many traffic interruptions. 

“There would be six fewer traffic lights for drivers approaching Charlottetown from the west. Drivers leaving Borden would not see a traffic signal until they reached Malpeque Road,” Biggar said.

Many new development opportunities would open up within Cornwall if the town’s main road was no longer part of the Trans-Canada Highway. This would make it possible for the town to consider new entrances and streets connecting to the road without being affected by highway access limits.

Cornwall Mayor Minerva McCourt said the town has long advocated for construction of a perimeter road and that uncertainty over the project has hindered development in the community. 

“Extremely limited access options on the existing Trans-Canada Highway have restricted development in the town for many years,” she said. “We look forward to the development opportunities that would result from this significant improvement to the highway system in and around Cornwall.

“The Town is hopeful that the commitment shown today from all levels of government will give developers the confidence to move their projects forward and help grow our town. The majority of our residents support this project, with the results of a 2003 plebiscite showing more than 80 per cent in favour of a perimeter highway. While there may be some temporary challenges, there is no question that this is in the best long term interests of the town.”