Province provides Halifax harbour bridges financing for maintenance

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As regular maintenance work continues on the Macdonald and MacKay bridges, the bridge commission is doing initial work to prepare for the eventual upgrade or replacement of the MacKay bridge, pictured. (Robert Short/CBC - image credit)
As regular maintenance work continues on the Macdonald and MacKay bridges, the bridge commission is doing initial work to prepare for the eventual upgrade or replacement of the MacKay bridge, pictured. (Robert Short/CBC - image credit)

The Nova Scotia government is loaning the Halifax-Dartmouth Bridge Commission up to $155 million for work the agency is doing during the next 10 years.

Steve Proctor, spokesperson for the bridge commission, said the loan amounts to an advance against toll revenue, which will be paid back to the province over time.

"Everything we do at the bridge is paid [for] by tolls," he said in an interview.

The money from the province will be used to help fund ongoing maintenance expected to cost about $280 million. The loan is the first part of a routine request and Proctor said another loan request would go to the province in 2026.

"We've got a lot of different projects that are ongoing over that time to keep the bridges safe and reliable," he said.

The tolls at the Macdonald and MacKay bridges increased this year for passenger vehicles using a Macpass by 20 cents and 25 cents for people who pay with change.

The toll increased for commercial vehicles by 25 per cent per axle.

The bridge commission, which recently hired a new CEO following the retirement of long-time commission head Steve Snider, also continues to work on the long-term project of overhauling the MacKay bridge, which must be replaced by 2040.

Proctor said various options are being considered for how to replace or upgrade the four-lane bridge that some locals still refer to as "the new bridge."

"We're talking about various routes, we're doing the technical studies. There will be lots of opportunities for public consultation, but we're not there yet."

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