Members of all three levels of government — including Premier Stephen McNeil — were in Bridgewater on Wednesday, Sept. 4, to announce $48.8 million for a new interchange along Highway 103.
As originally reported by the Chronicle Herald on Sept. 3, the hope is that a new interchange between Exits 12 and 13 will create more jobs at the Bridgewater Business Park by making the area more accessible.
Both the feds and province pledged some $20 million each to the project which was hailed as a landmark investment by attending officials.
“This is a tremendous investment for the entire South Shore region,” McNeil told reporters during a media scrum.
Bridgewater Mayor David Mitchell agreed, adding that the investment represented the largest funding announcement in the town’s history.
He said the new interchange would encourage more business to the industrial park and would cut down on commercial traffic in town. The Town of Bridgewater is slated to contribute $8 million to the project.
A total of 50 businesses currently call the industrial park home, among them the French tire company Michelin, which employs 1,225 people in Bridgewater and the surrounding area.
As a source previously told the Chronicle Herald, Michelin is the largest employer at the park “by a country mile.”
McNeil deferred when asked if he knew if Michelin had plans to expand in the area given the new interchange.
“Michelin is a tremendous partner for us in this community and across the province and we want to make sure they know that as they’re making their global decisions, Nova Scotia is open for business,” he said.
“This announcement today makes this community open for business.”
South Shore - St Margarets MP Bernadette Jordan was also mum on the subject, telling reporters “you’d have to ask them.”
She did note that the project had been in the works for over a year and that a study was underway to maximize the park’s potential through restructuring. The study was announced in July to the tune of $810,000 between federal and provincial funding.
Eric Bruner, director of external communications for Michelin North America, said the company was pleased to see the investment from all levels of government.
“The development of the trade corridor would allow Michelin more efficiently to transport products among our three Nova Scotia factories and to our North American and international distribution centres,” he wrote via email.
Roughly 75 per cent of all Michelin products made in Nova Scotia are exported in North America.
When asked if Michelin had plans for expansion at their Bridgewater location, Bruner deferred and said they are always looking for business opportunities.
“We’re always evaluating opportunities to strengthen Michelin’s industrial base in Nova Scotia but the company does not have any projects to announce at this time,” he said.
Design work on the new interchange is expected to begin this fall; the official opening is expected in 2022.