Island senator fighting high bridge tolls

By Darcy Cudmore

Feb. 2, 2016

Sen. Percy Downe is fighting the high cost for Islanders to travel across the Confederation Bridge.

The new Champlain Bridge in Montreal, which will cost about the same to build as the Confederation Bridge, will be toll-free. Downe said if the government of Canada changed its rules on bridge tolls, it must apply to all bridges.

Construction of the Confederation Bridge began in October 1993 and was projected to cost $1 billion but was over budget.

Percy downe
SEN. PERCY DOWNE

The bridge opened in May 1997.

In a Guardian interview, Liberal MP Lawrence MacAulay said the elimination or reduction of the bridge toll could kill the ferry service in Wood Island’s. He is also the federal minister of agriculture.

Downe said people looking to get directly to Nova Scotia take the ferry for convenience and that a reduced bridge toll would not negatively impact the ferry service.

Downe is not saying that the toll should be completely eliminated.

“As an Islander I would be happy with a reduced toll.”

Jeff Heron is an Islander who lives in Miramichi, N.B., but travels to and from P.E.I. on a regular basis. A reduced bridge toll would be helpful, he said.

“I think an elimination of a bridge toll is ridiculous. Reducing the fee to say $20 or $25 seems kind of reasonable.”

The idea of a reduced toll for anybody with a government issued ID from P.E.I. could also be a solution, Heron saidd

“For some Islanders, paying the $45 bridge toll or whatever it is may not be a possibility. In a sense, some Islanders are trapped here with no money to get off. That’s kind of a scary thought.”

Downe said he will continue to fight the decision that the Canadian government has made until a toll is placed on the new bridge in Montreal or they change the toll to leave P.E.I.

“Why are we paying when others are getting it free.”

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