On Sunday, Federal Transportation minister Marc Garneau made an announcement in Halifax that will see two infrastructure upgrades in the region.
"Our government has been working to identify and fund infrastructure projects that address bottlenecks, vulnerabilities, and congestion along our trade corridors," Garneau said.
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.
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.
"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.
Because of this, trucks that would typically pick up their goods downtown will now load and unload in Fairview Cove.
MLA Labi Kousoulis says he expects this to reduce container-related trucks travelling downtown by about 75 per cent.
"This is going to be a monumental change in our city, it's a very exciting project," Kousoulis said at the announcement.
The second part of the project will be a re-configuration of the Windsor Street Exchange itself.
"This work includes realigning the Bedford Highway, upgrading the Lady Hammond Road, and installing new traffic signals to improve traffic flow," Garneau explained.
Mayor Savage says the announcement was a much needed solution to growing traffic issues downtown.
"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.
Both upgrades are part of the new National Trade Corridors Fund, which aims to up Canada's trade competitiveness on an international scale.
"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."
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.
"It could be three, four years. The precise schedule will come a little later on," Garneau told press after the announcement.
The total cost of the project is approximately $100 million, with the federal government committing to at least 50 per cent.
"We're working to advance the prosperity of this region by supporting continued investment in our port," says Mayor Savage.
Also speaking at the event, Port of Halifax CEO Karen Oldfield says the announcement is a game-changer.
"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."
As Canada finalizes new trade agreements around the globe, Garneau says it's crucial that we optimize our shipping routes.
"Canada is back, Canada is strong, and it's open for business," he says.