Government announces $47.5 million project to improve Port of Halifax, revamp Windsor Street Exchange – HalifaxToday.ca

Government announces $47.5 million project to improve Port of Halifax, revamp Windsor Street Exchange - HalifaxToday.ca
Trudeau government investing $47-million to increase capacity at Port of Halifax
A busy Halifax intersection that suffers chronic traffic problems is set to get a major overhaul as part of a multi-million dollar funding announcement made by Federal Transport Minister Marc Garneau Sunday. 

The federal government is footing half the bill – $47.5 million – on two projects set to benefit the Port of Halifax.

Garneau said the federal money will cover half the cost of two projects, the first of which will increase storage capacity at the port by using an existing rail line through the downtown to connect the South End Container Terminal to the Fairview Cove Container Terminal, which is north of the citys downtown.

That amount will be matched with money from Halifax Regional Municipality, the provincial government, The Port of Halifax, and CN Rail. 

HALIFAX — The Port of Halifax is getting $47.5 million from Ottawa to boost its capacity to handle goods, but the big news for most residents will be the resulting reduction in container truck traffic in the downtown core — a noisy, smelly problem that has plagued the city for decades.

Government announces $47.5 million project to improve Port of Halifax, revamp Windsor Street Exchange

"As you know, we have recently signed new trade agreements," Garneau said. "We are a country of traders, and that's why our ports are so important."

The plan is to redevelop the Windsor Street exchange, the main access to the port, which is an intersection that is often the subject of grumbling by commuters.

Drivers will see the Bedford Highway realigned, upgrades to Lady Hammond Road, and new street lights. 

"While we value the trucking jobs and the goods that get transported daily throughout our region, their rumblings through narrow downtown streets have not always made for happy coexistence with residents, tourist and cyclists," he said.

The funding will also pay for a new rail connection between the South End Container Terminal and the Fairview Cove Container Terminal.

Shipping containers are moved at the Halterm Container Terminal in Halifax on Friday, Oct. 19, 2018. The federal government says it will spend $47 million to boost capacity at the Port of Halifax. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan)

"The port will add rail tracks within its existing footprint and acquire four new rail mounted cranes to load and unload containers faster and more efficiently at both terminals."

Federal Transport Minister Marc Garneau made the announcement Sunday in a large hall along the citys rain-soaked waterfront, not far from the South End Container Terminal — the largest terminal of its kind in Eastern Canada.

Garneau estimates that will eliminate the need for about 75 per cent of the container trucks that currently drive on the peninsula, which will reduce noise and pollution. 

Last month, Macquarie Group Ltd. based in Australia said it had reached a tentative deal to sell its stake in the South End Container Terminal to PSA International Pte Ltd., based in Singapore, pending regulatory approvals.

"It's also going to make the quality of life for people living in downtown Halifax a heck of a lot better. So it's a win win."

"We could have the best products in the world, but if we cant get them to our customers quickly and reliably, we will lose business to other suppliers," Garneau said at a news conference at the Cunard Centre.

"Instead of trucks coming into the downtown core, they will actually be dropping off and picking up boxes at another point in the city, so closer to the Fairview Cove Container Terminal," said Karen Oldfield, the president and CEO of the Port of Halifax. 

The improved rail line will be used to shuttle containers from the south end, though the downtown and deposit them at Fairview Cove, where they will be picked up by trucks waiting outside the downtown area.

Planning starts immediately, Garneau said, but the public won't see "shovels on the ground" until next year. Garneau says it could take four years to complete the upgrades. "The precise schedule will come a little bit later on."

"As a planner and a Halifax resident, getting those trucks off downtown streets has long been a priority for so many Haligonians," said Andy Fillmore, the Liberal MP for Halifax.

The Port of Halifax is getting $47.5-million from Ottawa to boost its capacity to handle goods, but the big news for most residents will be the resulting reduction in container truck traffic in the downtown core – a noisy, smelly problem that has plagued the city for decades.

"Ive heard from many residents. The trucks can be disruptive … The residents of Halifax are very excited about this. It will be a game-changer for downtown Halifax."

Federal Transport Minister Marc Garneau made the announcement Sunday in a large hall along the citys rain-soaked waterfront, not far from the South End Container Terminal – the largest terminal of its kind in Eastern Canada.

While it was a decidedly pro-business announcement, Garneau said he recognized the truck issue would be top-of-mind for residents living in and around downtown.

We could have the best products in the world, but if we cant get them to our customers quickly and reliably, we will lose business to other suppliers, Garneau said at a news conference at the Cunard Centre.

"This is going to be a monumental change in our city," he said, noting that container-truck traffic was expected by be reduced by 75 per cent.

While it was a decidedly pro-business announcement, Garneau said he recognized the truck issue would be top-of-mind for residents living in and around downtown.

"We are a country of traders, and that is why our ports are so important," Garneau said. "We could have the best products in the world, but if we can't get them to our customers quickly and reliably, we will lose business to other suppliers."

This is going to be a monumental change in our city, he said, noting that container-truck traffic was expected to be reduced by 75 per cent.

Garneau was accompanied by members of all levels of government for the announcement, including MP Andy Fillmore, MLA Labi Kousoulis, and HRM Mayor Mike Savage. Halifax CAO Jacques Dube was also in attendance, as well as Halifax Port Authority CEO Karen Oldfield.

Ive heard from many residents. The trucks can be disruptive … The residents of Halifax are very excited about this. It will be a game-changer for downtown Halifax.

"While we value the trucking jobs and the goods that get transported daily throughout our region, their rumblings through downtown streets have not always made for happy co-existence with residents, tourists, and cyclists," Savage says.

Mayor Mike Savage said the city has been blessed by unprecedented growth in construction and record population increases, but the big trucks have proven to be a constant nuisance in a downtown core that is otherwise bustling with new energy.

"The port will add rail tracks within its existing footprint and acquire four new rail mounted cranes to load and unload containers faster and more efficiently at both terminals," says Garneau.

While we value the trucking jobs and the goods that get transported daily throughout our region, their rumblings through narrow downtown streets have not always made for happy coexistence with residents, tourist and cyclists, he said.

"This is a big part of the transformative change that we've all been working toward," she says. "We can improve the quality of life for those living and working in Halifax."

Garneau said the federal money will cover half the cost of two projects, the first of which will increase storage capacity at the port by using an existing rail line through the downtown to connect the South End Container Terminal to the Fairview Cove Container Terminal, which is north of the citys downtown.

The improved rail line will be used to shuttle containers from the south end, though the downtown and deposit them at Fairview Cove, where they will be picked up by trucks waiting outside the downtown area.

The first part of the announcement will see a new rail track between the downtown container terminal, and the Fairview Cove container terminal near the Windsor Street exchange.

As a planner and a Halifax resident, getting those trucks off downtown streets has long been a priority for so many Haligonians, said Andy Fillmore, the Liberal MP for Halifax.

"This work includes realigning the Bedford Highway, upgrading the Lady Hammond Road, and installing new traffic signals to improve traffic flow," Garneau explained.

The second project will upgrade the Windsor Street Exchange and the Bedford Highway, the main access points to the port.

Although the planning aspect of the work has already begun, Garneau says shovels won't hit the dirt until 2020, and the length of the project is still undetermined.

The money will come from a second round of funding under the federal governments 11-year, $2-billion National Trade Corridors Fund.

"We're working to advance the prosperity of this region by supporting continued investment in our port," says Mayor Savage.

This will change the fabric of our city … for generations to come, said Karen Oldfield, CEO of the Port of Halifax. She said a recent public survey found the noise and traffic congestion caused by container trucks was a top concern for Halifax residents.

On Sunday, Federal Transportation minister Marc Garneau made an announcement in Halifax that will see two infrastructure upgrades in the region.

Last month, the Port of Halifax released a report that found the ports economic output in 2017-18 was $1.97 billion, up 15 per cent from 2015-16.

Both upgrades are part of the new National Trade Corridors Fund, which aims to up Canada's trade competitiveness on an international scale.

In 2017, Nova Scotia businesses exported the equivalent of 107,664 20-foot containers through the port, a 40 per cent increase when compared with 2015.

"It could be three, four years. The precise schedule will come a little later on," Garneau told press after the announcement.

Last month, Macquarie Group Ltd. based in Australia said it had reached a tentative deal to sell its stake in the South End Container Terminal to PSA International Pte Ltd., based in Singapore, pending regulatory approvals.

"This is going to be a monumental change in our city, it's a very exciting project," Kousoulis said at the announcement.

The terminal is currently being leased to Halterm Container Terminal Ltd. through the port authority.

PSA International beat several bids for Halterm, including a joint bid from Canadian National Railway Co. and an unnamed partner.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to [email protected] Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to [email protected] Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .