New Brunswickers love their highways. New Brunswickers love talking about their highways. AND New Brunswickers love talking about what highways should be twinned next. It’s a common subject and one which can be brought up with any resident just about anywhere to get an opinion on the subject.
Because New Brunswick’s population is still made up of a significant rural population many residents are spread throughout the regions of the province. Although the province is not that large compared to an Ontario or a Quebec, a sizeable portion of its population lives outside of its major population centres, so having connecting highways that are both efficient and safe for travel are important to a large number of residents as well as businesses.
In total, New Brunswick has roughly 825KM of twinned, four-lane highway for a population hovering around 755,000.
A lot of discussion in the past has revolved around two Highways that likely should be twinned but haven’t been for whatever reason you’d like to believe. Some in Saint John will make the joke that there is no twinned highway to the Capital from Saint John for a good reason, and the lack thereof shows Fredericton’s contempt for the southern port city. Others, in Kent County, may point to political favouring and posturing as why Route 11 may not have been twinned in the past, or a dwindling population in rural parts of Northeastern New Brunswick. Others have been very pro-twinning, stating that it will bring economic impacts and tourists (more-so for Route 11) to areas currently underserved by them, whilst others go further and say twinning highways will pull tourists away from local towns (Charlotte County Route 1).
It’s a tricky and sometimes controversial subject.
Route 11 is, at this stage, the most likely to be twinned in New Brunswick as there is currently work being down to twin a short segment from Shediac Bridge to Shediac River. Initial, potential plans for Route 11 had it being twinned as far north as Miramichi, but as the following numbers indicate traffic does not warrant twinning that far north.
The following are AADT (Average Annual Daily Traffic) numbers for Route 11 from 2010, 2012, and 2014.
These numbers highlight increasing traffic between Shediac and Richibucto until it tails off further north before further tailing off the further one travels north. The Province of New Brunswick and Department of Transportation indicate that an AADT of roughly 8,000 is the amount required to investigate twinning of a segment of highway, and nearly all of Shediac to Richibucto will meet that in the near future with its current trending. The sections of Route 11 north of Richibucto barely meet half of that requirement currently.
The current project underway is twinning a section of Route 11 from Shediac Bridge to Shediac River, a short section of the southern portion of Route 11. Traffic dictates this is (or will be soon) needed further north towards Bouctouche. Further twinning north to Richibucto seems to be destined as well, although this will depend on political expediency and safety concerns.
Those that desire full twinning of Route 11 seem to be grasping at straws at least as far as the AADT numbers indicate. The numbers do not pick up high enough again until Route 11 is well into Miramichi and crossing the Miramichi River, and are only high enough for that river crossing. Although full twinning would provide a higher degree of safety for motorists the traffic numbers are not there to warrant it, and the CBC lists Route 11 as having a lower collision rate than other two-lane highways in the province.
In fact, one report on Route 11 twinning from 2012 found that safety concerns were not warranted on Route 11 compared to other routes in the province.
Route 7 is the primary highway route connecting two of New Brunswick’s largest population centres: Saint John & Fredericton. For a stretch of highway less than 100km in length connecting two major NB Cities it would seem obvious that this would have been twinned and would have the traffic necessary for that twinning. However, Department of Transportation’s AADT numbers tell a different story:
These numbers highlight Route 7’s stagnating, and in some areas decreasing, traffic trends. If we remove sections of Route 7 that are shared with Route 2 from Oromocto and Fredericton we’re left with a particular trend: The average traffic on Route 7 between Oromocto and Saint John has been decreasing from an average AADT of 6,201 in 2010, to 6,077 in 2012, to 5,750 in 2014. The biggest loss of traffic are in Nerepis (-210), Welsford (-1,270), and Petersville (-540). The North section near Geary and the South section nea Grand Bay have seen increases over this time frame.
On the whole it seems likely that Route 11 is on the precipice of twinning whilst Route 7 is heading in the opposite direction, at least for its full length. The newly opened twinned section which bypasses Welsford (and replaced an awful winding section which traveled through the time) seems to have dwindling traffic, or at least its numbers have fallen as the new bypass has replaced the old. Time will tell if these numbers continue to trend.