Feds invest $47.5 million in Port of Halifax, Windsor Street Exchange upgrades

The Halifax Herald

Andrea Gunn (agunn@herald.ca)

Published: 3 June 2019

A federal investment of $47.5 million in the Port of Halifax is a game changer, says the authority’s president and CEO Karen Oldfield, and will improve the lives of both Haligonians and port users.

At a media event in Halifax on Sunday, Transport Minister Marc Garneau and Halifax MP Andy Fillmore announced funding via the $2 billion National Trade Corridors Fund for two different but related projects to increase the capacity of the Port of Halifax and help improve the flow of Canadian goods to international markets.

The federal portion will cover about half of the roughly $100-million initiative with the rest of the funds coming from the Nova Scotia government, Halifax Regional Municipality, the Halifax Port Authority and CN Rail.

According to a federal press release, the first project will increase the port’s storage capacity by connecting the South End Container Terminal to the Fairview Cove Container Terminal by rail. The upgrades will include adding rail tracks within its existing footprint and the acquisition of four new rail-mounted cranes to load and unload containers more efficiently.

The second project will upgrade the Windsor Street Exchange, the main access road to the Port of Halifax. As part of this, the Port will realign the Bedford Highway, upgrade Lady Hammond Road and install new traffic signals to improve traffic flow, reduce congestion, and improve safety, reliability, and efficiency of freight movement.

“What does it really mean? It means much better use of existing infrastructure. … Container trucks will be picking up and dropping off boxes at another point closer to the Fairview Cove terminal and those container trucks that would otherwise be coming to the (Halterm terminal) in the South End … that traffic will come in by rail,” Oldfield said.

“It’s a wonderful thing, because it means that the container-related truck traffic will be out of the downtown streets. They won’t be idling, they won’t be giving off greenhouse gasses, they won’t be presenting some of the challenges for pedestrians and bikers and everybody else that lives downtown.”

For container truck drivers, she said it will mean not having to contend with downtown traffic and navigating narrow city streets.

“I think we should be very excited … this is transformational for the city,” Oldfield said.

Speaking with SaltWire Network, Garneau said Atlantic Canada is a gateway to many key overseas destinations for Canadian goods.

“Our ports are key to the economic vitality of the country and if we don’t get our goods to our customers in other countries then they will quickly turn towards other sources to meet their needs and we will lose business,” he said.

“Having modern, efficient and reliable ports is absolutely critical, and on the East Coast, Halifax is a very important port for that.”

A spokesperson from the Department of Transportation said planning and design for the projects will start this summer with the actual construction expected to kick off in the spring of 2020. The projects are expected to create an estimated 880 jobs during the three to four years they will take to complete.