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Bridgewater's active transportation plan will cost $7.4 million

by Keith Corcoran

 COUNTY - Bridgewater's plan for walking, cycling and other human-powered methods of transportation around town carries a $7.4 million price tag over 10 years.

 But a series of nine motions passed recently by council doesn't tie any money yet to the project.

 "We've just said please keep going, do all the good work that you're doing and we'll deal with each monetary request when they come," Mayor Carroll Publicover said.

 Bridgewater agreed to let its active transportation committee examine ways to find other sources of funding to pay for its plans and consider policy changes to town planning documents.

 The town also authorized the committee to look into public education programs, involve private land ownership, study the ideas of public washrooms and more bike racks and examine the existing bridges.

 "Let's face it - sustainability and looking at other modes of transportation and trying to conserve energy are very topical today," said the mayor, "and I think they are on the mark with a lot of ways we need to look differently at how we get around."

 Town planning director Eric Shaw and representatives of South Shore Health and Nova Scotia Health Promotion and Protection presented the 39-page report.

 The document identified pedestrian accesses and made suggestions for changes in street and sidewalk construction for bike lanes or cycling routes, connecting walkways, landscaping and trail designs.

 It's predicted North Street will show one of the first examples of active transportation and a catalyst for future work when the street gets upgraded in the next year.

 The report suggested 23 active transportation links throughout town based on a consultant's recommendations.

 "This is just not a matter of introducing some paint to the street to define bicycle lanes," Mr. Shaw commented to council.

 "We're talking about changing the roads dramatically in the town. There's significant cost but rightfully so because this is big work and big impacts as a result."

 Councillor Jim Bell voted against the committee's recommendations because with an endorsement, he feels the town will be compelled to spend a lot of money as a result. The report assumes it will cost $495,000 over a two-year period to equip North Street, from Aberdeen Road to LaHave Street, with ways to remove obstacles for pedestrians or cyclists.

 However, Councillor Bell sees sewer systems and solid waste operations needing big bucks in the coming years.

 "Sooner or later we have to say no to some of these projects that are great and wonderful," he said.

 Bridgewater started its active transportation planning back in 2003.

 The report in its entirety can be found at www.southshorenow.ca on the internet.



posted on 06/24/08
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