In Pictou County, we try hard to win the “Worst Road in Nova Scotia” competition. It means a day in the road-rage spotlight and the attention on the NDP’s Transportation Minister Bill Estabrooks.
Our capital city readers with their escalator sidewalks and their mass transit ferries may have forgotten about rural roads, but here in Pictou roads are a top tier issue – on par with hospitals, schools, jobs and the economy.
Before John Hamm and John Savage, governments spent a lot of money building and maintaining our roads and highways. John Buchanan and Donald Cameron had two of the biggest roads budgets in Nova Scotia history, in 1984-85 and 1992-93 respectively. Since then, successive Liberal and Tory governments let things slide, leaving the province with a messy infrastructure deficit. Until Bill Estabrooks became Minister of Transportation.
Famous for his ‘Pave Baby Pave’ mantra, Bill Estabrook’s Five Year Paving Plan – the first of its kind in Nova Scotia history – has delivered three road budgets that are paving the way toward a smoother ride for us on local connectors and for tourists on the main highways. Let’s compare Estabrooks’ road budgets with past ones:
2010-11, Dexter – $310 million
2012-13, Dexter – $281 million
2011-12, Dexter – $265 million
1984-85, Buchanan – $250 million (adjusted for inflation)
1992-93, Cameron – $233 million (adjusted for inflation)
Nova Scotians can now look at the activity on the government’s Google Maps. We took a few snaps from this year’s and last year’s paving season in Pictou.