WELLINGTON: Commuting in the Wellington and Fall River area is about to get a little easier.

At a quickly-arranged funding announcement on March 2, Sackville-Preston-Chezzetcook Liberal MP Darrell Samson, along with Waverley-Fall River-Beaver Bank Liberal MLA Bill Horne, announced the two governments have partnered to fund the construction of the five-kilometre Wellington Connector. The price tag for the project is $21 million, with the feds providing $10 million and the province chipping in $11.2 million. Central Nova Liberal MP Sean Fraser was the emcee.

Sackville-Preston-Chezzetcook Liberal MP Darrell Samson announces the federal government is contributing $10 million to the Wellington Connector project (Healey photo)

What’s even better? Construction on the project is expected to begin late this Spring, and could be completed by late 2018, said Samson.

A TIR spokesman clarified to The Laker on March 6 that the dates for work starting is forecasted to be June 2020, with completion by October 2022.

“It’s going to open a lot of new land, make it available for people to work at the airport and they’ll only have a five minute drive,” said Horne after the announcement. “It will make a tremendous difference because we can now have development of new houses, and subdivisions probably, or extensions of other ones plus the opportunity for businesses to come here.

“It could really set the economy off in this community.”

Samson said the federal dollars is a major infrastructure investment for the area.

“It’s a big investment into our community,” he said. “Our government feels strongly in supporting communities by connecting them together, which is essential.

He said many communities will benefit from the Wellington Connector once it’s built.

“This is not going to only help this community, but the communities around the area like Windsor Junction; Wellington; Fall River; Fletchers Lake; and Waverley,” said Samson. “Those are all communities that will benefit directly.

“When you have infrastructure in communities, then you really open up the community to all kinds of possibilities. Connecting with the business world, having tourism and bringing young families here.”

Horne said he’s been assured a sound proofing fence will be built adjacent to Oaken Hills subdivision to keep noise from residents there.

Liberal MP Bill Horne, Central Nova MP Sean Fraser, and Sackville-Preston-Chezzetcook MP Darrell Samson stand outside the Wellington Fletchers Lake Station House on March 2, after announcing the Wellington Connector will be supported by both levels of government to the tune of $21 million. (Healey photo)

Fraser said the partnership and funding support is a prime example of how the Atlantic Growth Strategy is helping to create both jobs in the short-term and also lay the conditions for long-term economic growth.

When asked for any exact start dates, Fraser was unsure.

“I don’t know if there’s a fixed date,” he said. “We’re hoping as soon as possible.”

Samson said what’s more important is that the connector will allow more prosperity.

“People will be able to exit these areas and get to the airport or the Aerotech Park, but also businesses in this community will have more access to move the product to markets faster, which is essential.

“Tourism, there are many nice parks and lakes here that people will be able to access that much easier, which will be a benefit as well. Seniors and first responders, it’s on and on. There are so many positives that will come out of this major investment.”

Councillor Steve Streatch was hopeful the news of the connector getting the green light was why Horne’s office contacted him to invite him to attend the announcement.

“What a great link this is going to create and a much more seamless transportation route,” said Streatch.

It could also mean the potential for the Halifax Transit MetroX route making the loop to Halifax Stanfield Airport, then taking the Wellington Connector down to the Fall River Park and Ride. That’s something that will need to be investigated down the road.

Councillor Steve Streatch speaks about what the Wellington Connector means as former Councillor Barry Dalrymple listens during the press conference announcing funding support from both the feds and provincial governments. (Healey photo)

Samson said when he was campaigning during the federal election, he heard loud and clear that the connector was top of mind for many residents.

“The communities were looking forward to this. They’ve been talking about it for five, six, or seven years,” he said. “It will help them getting to work, but also for families taking kids to soccer or hockey games this will save a lot of time.

“The congestion in Fall River has been a major issue for some time. This will allow us to have two major flows in and out of the communities.”