Among other speakers and topics, Doug Johnson with the New Brunswick Transportation Department, co-chairman of the Atlantic Gateway Federal/Provincial Officials Committee, will provide an update on the Atlantic Gateway project, New Brunswick’s new 10-year, $4.4-billion transportation strategy and the even more recent “Intelligent Transportation Systems Strategic Plan.”

He will also speak on progress on the the Northeast CanAm Connections Study, a look at the transportation system in New England and Eastern Canada that began in January 2007.

Brent Sansom, vice-president of Atlantica for the Atlantic Provinces Chamber of Commerce, organized the forum to coincide with the APCC’s quarterly meeting at Danny’s Inn Restaurant and Conference Centre in Beresford, co-hosted by the Greater Bathurst Chamber of Commerce.

“There is a need to get our minds made up in the region,” said Sansom, who works out of Moncton. He hopes the forum will contribute to building a consensus on East Coast transportation priorities.

Lack of harmonization on issues such as weight restrictions makes the Atlantic region less efficient than other points of entry along the eastern seaboard, he said.

Further, even if the Atlantic Provinces get their house in order, regional industries still must move goods to inland markets.

The program will start with a New Brunswick Chamber of Commerce board meeting at 10 a.m., then the Atlantic chamber quarterly membership meeting at 11 a.m. New Brunswick Transportation Minister Denis Landry will speak at lunch, ahead of the transportation forum from 1:30-5:30 p.m.

Each speaker will make a short presentation before the group breaks into smaller workshops.

Besides Johnson, seven other speakers will address specific issues.

Capt. Alwyn Soppitt, president and chief executive officer of the Saint John Port Authirity, will speak for the Southern New Brunswick Gateway Council on Regional Transportation – Assets, Opportunities, and Issues.

Donald Hammond of Enterprise Chaleur will speak on the Northern New Brunswick Corridor Study.

Jenna Doucet with the Belledune Port Authority will present an Overview of the Port of Belledune.

Richard Scott with SNC-Lavalin ProFac and Brun-Way Operations will speak on Success in Public Private Partnerships. Brun-Way, a joint venture between SNC-Lavalin of Quebec and the Atcon Group of Miramichi, rebuilt the Trans Canada Highway from Woodstock to Grand Falls, and operates the twinned highway through northwest New Brunswick from Longs Creek to the Quebec border.

Peter Vigue, chairman Cianbro Corp. in Maine, will speak on his plan to build a US$1-billion east-west highway across the neighbouring state from Calais to Gore – that is, just across from St. Stephen to south of Sherbrooke, Que.

Peter Nelson with the Atlantic Provinces Trucking Association, based in Moncton, will address the topic Regional Trucking Industry – Assets, Opportunities, and Issues.

Réal Robichaud from Fredericton, with the Tourism Industry Association of New Brunswick, will speak on Tourism Sector Overview and Transportation Implications.