Two highly anticipated upgrades to Highway 104 could move ahead much sooner if federal funding becomes a reality. Transportation and Public Works Minister Angus MacIsaac told municipal leaders in the Strait region of the province today, March 27, that his department has planning and design work well underway for the 15-kilometre stretch of twinning near Antigonish, and the eight kilometres of new highway near Port Hawkesbury. “Significant upgrades are needed to ensure that this vital national highway is safe and efficient for all users,” said Mr. MacIsaac. “Without federal funding in place it will be necessary to delay the startup of some of this work, or to spread it out over a longer period of time.” Mr. MacIsaac said completion time for these projects could be shortened by almost two years if the federal government matches provincial funding. The province is pursuing agreements with the federal government on these projects. If a federal funding agreement is in place, construction of the new twinned section of Highway 104 near Antigonish is expected to begin in 2008, while the bypass near Port Hawkesbury is expected to begin in 2009. The province and the government of Canada signed a contribution agreement in 2005 that included twinning an eight-kilometre section of Highway 104 between New Glasgow and Pine Tree Road. Details of the highway projects are available on the website at: http://gov.ns.ca/tran/highwayops/hwyprojects.asp .