Connecting Quebec, Maine, Atlantic Canada, and New England with Europe:
The 21st Century has very quickly become known as the century of communication, transportation, and energy independence. The old ideas of cultural isolationism and trade protectionism have been relegated to history books. What can the North East of North America do proactively to ensure our geographical region plays an integral part of the 21st century?
I believe Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont, Maine, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland have much more in common with each other than we have differences. Together we have a shared history of stepping up and sacrificing ourselves for the great global causes of freedom, liberty, and for good governance. It is our region where the foundation of America and Canada was laid. The longest undefended border in the world bears witness to a uniquely successful and durable relationship. We have family members who have lived and worked on both sides of the border, in the different provinces and states within this region. We vacation in our jurisdictions further cementing our great shared past.
The North East has a great untapped potential future that could play a very prominent and important role to Western and Central North America when it comes to importing and exporting goods from Europe, while at the time becoming an important key for Europe with the energy export issue around potential pipelines and LNG facilities
Let me challenge you with what I believe are nine key questions:
(1) What if Europe had a more economical way to export and import goods to and from North America? Currently, the city of Halifax has the 2nd deepest natural harbor in the world; one which in my view includes an underutilized sea port system with tremendous growth potential.
(2) What if the state of Maine had a way to get its goods into Central and Atlantic Canada more rapidly and efficiently than it can now while also being able to reach much larger markets like Quebec City, Montreal, Halifax, and Saint John?
(3) What if the province of Quebec had a more efficient way to move its goods into Maine and Atlantic Canada – one which also offered it a larger market?
(4) What if Massachusetts, Vermont, and New Hampshire business could better access Northern Eastern Maine and urban Atlantic Canadian markets?
(5) What if the large Ski & Snowboard Resorts of New England and Quebec had a better way to attract people reluctant to drive for up to 12 hours within our North American footprint?
(6) What if more of our economically challenged rural areas, were offered a new chance to acquire more jobs, and more substantial economic activity?
(7) What if the summer & fall tourism industry could turn more of its part time jobs into full time jobs?
(8) What if the trucking industry could find a way to travel farther, in less time?
(9) What if tourism in our shared region could eliminate a half days’ worth of driving getting to and from within our common footprint?
I propose a solution that would solidify our position of importance here in the North East:
The Canadian and New Brunswick governments have twinned the NB1 Highway from Saint John New Brunswick to Calais Maine, and along with their American counterparts have built a new fast track border crossing to go with it. The Cianbro Corporation, a Maine based company has seen what their Canadian friends have done with this and have proposed an innovative and important lynchpin concept for our entire geographical footprint. They call it the “Maine East West Highway”!
The first half of their proposal would connect Bangor Maine to Halifax Nova Scotia and Halifax to Bangor’s southern New England neighbors via the I95 saving approximately 1 hour of driving. The 2nd half of their proposal would connect Montreal, Quebec with Coburn Gore Maine and Bangor Maine eliminating an additional 2 hours from the Quebec border to Bangor. The combined savings would equal 3 hours of drive time.
Such progressive thinking from Cianbro and the people of Maine deserves to be matched with leadership from the Canadian and Quebec governments with something I call the Can-Am Super Highway. It would connect Coburn Gore Maine and Woburn Quebec along Highway 212 to Sherbrook Quebec, which runs a straight line of approx. 90 km then connects Montreal/Ottawa/Toronto to Eastern North America.
If this relatively easy strip of road were twinned, suddenly a total of 3.5 hours would be removed from either direction, reducing costs for the trucking industry, improving tourism, and inviting more employment opportunities to be created in New England, Quebec, and Atlantic Canada. Surely we would see busier restaurants and new ones being built, heavily booked hotels and motels, and even new ones being built. Suddenly moving goods between Europe and North America becomes easier with a rapid border crossing, cum transportation network combined with an existing sea port system.
I have even imagined potentially removing another additional hour from the drive between Nova Scotia and New Brunswick connecting Sussex New Brunswick with Kentville Nova Scotia
The Blue line is the traditional existing route, the red one (forgive my drawing abilities) is my proposed idea
with the construction of 2 relatively small bridges. Consider what cutting 4.5 hours off of this drive would mean for commerce, tourism, and trade in New England, Quebec, Atlantic Canada, and South Eastern Ontario? Imagine the increased trade to and from Europe.
A 2nd important link also needs to be discussed, Highway 73 connecting Quebec City with Coburn Gore Maine border crossing and the East West Highway Maine.
Highway 73 needs to be twinned from Beauceville Quebec to Coburn Gore - an easy distance of 127 km. A time savings of 1 hour from Quebec City to the Maine border would improve tourism, commerce, and potential revenue. All of a sudden with the twinning of this highway New England has access to the 700,000 plus people who live in the Quebec City region and in turn Quebec City will have access to the big New England market. This plan has the potential to move goods from all over North America and Europe through our geographical footprint, to create new jobs, to create more full time employment, improve tourism, and to also generate more revenue for the various governments in the region, with the prospect of even better services for their constituents. From a safety point of view this proposal would replace old, dilapidated road networks, reduce accidents and so cut insurance costs for business and consumers. From an environmental point of view this plan also reduces our carbon footprint helping ensure a better continent for all of us.
To move it forward, we need to encourage advocacy groups, local media, and town mayors to communicate the intrinsic value of this idea with a view to build a grassroots movement to support and to enable elected representatives to feel comfortable running with it. However, we also need political representation at the provincial and state level combined with that of the national governments to lay the groundwork to ensure this issue is not simply lost in the shuffle of other important day to day issues
We need the Eastern Premiers and New England Governors to get behind this idea of the Can-Am Super Highway and ensure the 21st century doesn’t leave our region at the curb.