MacKay, Macdonald bridge toll increase delayed by one day

·2 min read
Halifax Harbour Bridges collects roughly $33 million in tolls in a regular year.  (Robert Short/CBC - image credit)
Halifax Harbour Bridges collects roughly $33 million in tolls in a regular year. (Robert Short/CBC - image credit)

People who still use cash to cross the Halifax harbour bridges will get another day before the price to cross goes up 25 cents, Halifax Harbour Bridges said in a tweet Monday.

The fee was supposed to increase on Monday, but the Crown corporation delayed the increase until Tuesday. It did not immediately disclose the reason for the delay.

A toll hike that was approved by the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board means drivers crossing the Macdonald or MacKay bridges will have to pay $1.25 if they're using cash, up from a dollar. Passenger vehicles using a Macpass will pay a dollar instead of 80 cents.

The increase for commercial vehicles will be 25 per cent per axle.

This is the first toll increase on the bridges in a decade, and Halifax Harbour Bridges says it is necessary to maintain the bridges.

The increase supports a $285 million, 10-year plan of maintenance and repairs, says communications manager Steve Proctor.

"So, without this increase, we wouldn't be able to do the repairs that keep the bridges running safely and efficiently," he said.

Part of the $285-million budget will go to concrete repairs, steel and paint repairs, concrete structure rehabilitation and overpass maintenance.

Proctor said there is also money set aside for a future move to an all-electronic toll system.

Robert Short/CBC
Robert Short/CBC

The Macdonald bridge is 66 years old, and the MacKay bridge is 51 years old.

Proctor said there may be more toll increases in the next few years to keep up with maintenance, but "nothing is set in stone."

A new study suggested the deck system of the MacKay will reach the end of its life by 2040.

Halifax Harbour Bridges is looking into suggestions from engineers that a six-lane, $1-billion bridge should be built to replace it. Proctor said nothing has been decided, but there is "a finite timeline."

"It takes 10 years to build a bridge, so within the next 10 years we have to have a plan and engineering and drawings all in place," he said.

Funded by drivers

Halifax Harbour Bridges receives no provincial funding.

"The way the bridge is set up is that people who use the bridge pay for the bridge," Proctor said.

"Nobody likes to see an increase, but I think everybody understands it. I think everybody has known that it's been coming."

Proctor said there is a plan in place if people show up without the extra quarter. "But our expectation is that it should go fairly smoothly."

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