ELMSDALE: The Lantz interchange, a project almost 17 years in the making, has officially been confirmed for construction.

Kings-Hants MP Scott Brison was joined by Hants East MLA Margaret Miller and Municipality of East Hants Warden Jim Smith along with several municipal councillors at the Lloyd E. Matheson Centre in Elmsdale the morning of March 13, to make the announcement.

“This has been a long time coming and it is a transformative project that will make a real difference in communities here,” said Brison as he announced the federal governments contribution of $14 million to the project.

The remaining 50 per cent will be contributed by the provincial government for a total construction cost of $28 million.

The new exit, “8-A”, will be developed along Highway 102 between the existing exits 8, Elmsdale and exit 9, Milford. The kilometer long controlled access connector road will link Highway 102 to Highway 2 via a diamond shaped interchange with four ramps, a roundabout at the on and off ramps of each intersection and wider lanes in both directions along Highway 102.

Miller told the gathered crowd that she could not get the smile off her face, stating that today may go down as her most memorable one in office.

“This is something I heard from the people in East Hants about how much they really wanted this,” said Miller, “I can’t tell you how much it means to me to be here and finally announce the funding towards this new highway project.”

“The exit 8 off Highway 102 and route 214 frequently becomes congested during driving hours and how many times have we been stuck in that,” said Miller. “The project will improve road safety, an alternate interchange will alleviate congestion, provide alternate access for further development and controlled access connection to Highway 102. It will also reduce delays at the signalized intersections of Exit 8.”

The interchange will play an important role in bringing further development to the area, Miller confirmed last month that The Penney Group has confirmed development plans which include 200 lots of semi-detached residents, that is 400 homes, and at least four, eight-unit apartment buildings, which will begin construction in summer 2018.

“Access to Highway 102 is especially important for supporting tourism, facilitating exports, connecting rural residents to major health care services and of course, when you think of the Lantz Sportsplex, connecting Nova Scotians to a tremendous, tremendous community centre for healthy recreation,” Brison said.

Warden Jim Smith concluded the announcment saying, “I’d like to thank our provincial and our federal partners on this. It is a piece of infrastructure that is beyond our control but it effects us greatly, so I’d like to thank you both for your contributions to this project to move it forward. I am really looking forward to giving someone directions to come to the Sportsplex and saying come out from Halifax and take exit 8-A.”