EDITOR'S NOTE: A photo from the official opening of the Route 1 Gateway project on Thursday, Oct. 25, was altered by an outside photographer. It was posted in error to the government newswire and then removed. It should not have been altered, and we apologize.

PENNFIELD (GNB) – The $540-million Route 1 Gateway, intended to boost international trade and travel, officially opened today.

The entire 240 kilometres of highway from St. Stephen to River Glade is now a divided, four-lane highway. The highway is expected to promote economic growth in the region and enhance multi-modal connections to many of Atlantic Canada's seaports, rail network and international airports.

“The Route 1 Gateway represents a new beginning for trade and travel between New Brunswick and the United States, our largest trading partner,” said Premier David Alward. “It will improve safety, foster economic growth in the region and enhance our efforts to rebuild New Brunswick.”

The project was jointly funded by the federal and provincial governments.

“Today we celebrate investments which will not only improve transportation efficiency and traffic flows in New Brunswick, but will also benefit the economy by facilitating international trade through this crucial part of the Atlantic Gateway and Trade Corridor,” said New Brunswick Southwest MP John Williamson. “These strategic infrastructure investments to one of the major trade corridors between Atlantic Canada and the Eastern United States will further attract economic opportunities and are key to our gateway's success.”

Williamson attended the event on behalf of Fisheries and Oceans Minister Keith Ashfield, who is also minister responsible for the Atlantic Gateway.

“The new highway is designed to support increased traffic volumes, making the movement of people and goods much safer and more efficient,” said Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Claude Williams. “I am pleased this project has been completed on budget and nearly a year ahead of schedule. It exemplifies the effectiveness of the public-private partnership and the innovations and efficiencies that were worked into the construction management plan.”

The project was comprised of two contracts with the province. Dexter Construction Company Ltd. was responsible for the design/build portion of the work, while Transfield Dexter Gateway Services Ltd. is responsible for the operation, maintenance and rehabilitation of the highway until 2040.

Eighty-five per cent of the labour was sourced in New Brunswick. At peak construction, about 700 jobs were created.

“Dexter Construction has taken a great deal of pride in this project from the beginning,” said Harry Varjabedien, project director, Dexter Construction Company Ltd. “The Route 1 Gateway is an incredible achievement that was accomplished through innovative thinking, careful planning, maximizing resources and team work by all parties involved.”

The federal government contributed $210 million through the Provincial-Territorial Base Fund, and through the Gateways and Border Crossings Fund. Export Development Canada was a key partner for Dexter Construction, providing both financing and bonding solutions.