Drivers and cyclists in Nova Scotia will travel more safely thanks to improvements on two of the provinces busiest roadways. Sections of the Cabot Trail and Route 333 between Beechville and Tantallon are undergoing transformations that will allow cyclists and motorists to safely share the road. “This is the first of many steps we are taking to encourage the use of sustainable transportation in our province,” said Murray Scott, Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal. “We are committed to creating safer and more accessible roads for all users.” About 60 kilometres of the Cabot Trail is scheduled for widening over the next few years so that cyclists can safely share the road with motorists. This year’s project, between St. Anns and Cape Smokey, is scheduled to be complete this fall. A section announced last year was completed this summer. Work is also well underway on Route 333, where bike lanes are being installed to accommodate the growing number of cyclists. Route 333 was chosen for the project because of its ability to connect with HRM bike lanes on St. Margarets Bay Road. Peggy’s Cove is also located on the popular roadway, making it particularly busy during the tourist season. The bike lanes will cover 16 kilometres of Route 333 and are expected to be complete this fall. It will cost the department about $65,000 per kilometre to build the lanes using a modified chipseal and recycled asphalt surface. Traditional asphalt bike lanes would cost at least $125,000 per kilometre. The department will monitor and evaluate the performance of the surface used on Route 333 to determine how to proceed with future projects. Providing the projects are successful, the province plans to continue the bike-friendly improvements on both roads until they are complete. The projects are part of several provincial sustainable transportation initiatives, including plans for more car pool parking lots. A policy is being developed on the method of identifying when and where they will be constructed. There are currently 39 car pool parking lots in Nova Scotia. The projects also support Nova Scotia’s Environmental Goals and Sustainable Prosperity Act. Under the act, Nova Scotia has established a target to have one of the cleanest and most sustainable environments in the world by 2020.
REGINA — Weak commodity prices and higher government capital spending have prompted Standard and Poor’s to downgrade Saskatchewan’s credit rating.The agency says it has lowered the rating to double-A from double-A plus.Standard and Poor’s says the downgrade reflects Saskatchewan’s weakened budget performance and growing debt thanks to low oil, natural gas and potash prices.The agency says despite some tax reforms and cuts in the government’s recent budget, the province’s position is now weaker than it was last year.It also cites higher spending plans under the Saskatchewan Builds Capital Program.On the upside, Standard and Poor’s says the outlook for the province is stable and forecasts the economy will record modest growth in the next two years.“Weaker commodity prices and elevated capital spending are negatively affecting the Province of Saskatchewan’s budgetary performance and debt burden,” the agency said Wednesday.“S&P Global Ratings lowered its long-term issuer credit and senior unsecured debts ratings on the province … to ‘AA’ from ‘AA+”.At the same time the agency affirmed its ‘A-1+’ global scale and ‘A-1 (High)’ Canada scale short-term debt ratings on the province.This is the second time the agency has cut Saskatchewan’s credit rating over the past 12 months.Last June, Standard and Poor’s downgraded the province’s credit rating from triple-A to double-A plus due to low resource prices.Credit ratings can affect how much a government pays to borrow money.