The new and expanded ferry service that residents of the Tancook Islands were promised three years ago likely won't go into service for another nearly two years.
The latest delay is the decision by the Department of Public Works to reissue the tender to build two of the three ferry terminals needed for the larger vessel the province is having built to carry vehicles and passengers between the mainland and the two islands.
"There was this huge, huge tender which included the wharves, the road infrastructure and when we put it out [we had] one bidder and it came back pretty much double the amount our cost estimates would be," Public Works Minister Kim Masland told CBC News Thursday.
According to the department, Dexter Construction bid $92.2 million for the work.
The tender issued Wednesday includes the construction of the ferry terminals in Blandford and Big Tancook, along with the road work needed to accommodate the loading and unloading of the 18-vehicle vessel. The department is holding off on issuing a tender for the Little Tancook facility until after the bids come in for this job.
Map of the proposed new Tancook ferry terminal in Blandford, N.S., on the Aspotogan Peninsula. (Submitted)
"That will inform how we proceed from there," said Masland, who noted work on the ferry itself was progressing as planned. "The boat is on schedule, on time, on budget."
The new ferry, currently under construction at the A.F. Theriault and Son shipyard in Meteghan River, is expected to be ready this summer, well before its needed.
"We're probably going to have to store the boat, obviously, until we get the rest of the infrastructure completed." said Masland.
Announced by a previous Liberal government in November 2020, the project has been delayed by environmental concerns and the search for a suitable new terminal site on the Aspotogan Peninsula. The decision to shift the mainland terminal from Chester to Blandford drew some criticism but the new route is expected to shave 20 minutes off the crossing time.
The new, larger vessel can accommodate trucks which will be able to deliver bulky goods to homes on the island. It will replace a passenger ferry now serving the islands which have a population of about 200.
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