Key players in the Atlantic Gateway are still raising concerns about where the money will go and who will benefit. Stephen Campbell, chairman of the Saint John port, is worried about where the provincial government’s attention is focused.

“One of the things we’ve heard is that there’s an interest by the provincial government to have gateway funding go into twinning the St. Stephen highway,” Campbell said. “There’s a lot of concern within transportation providers that this could be shortsighted.”

Officials from the province have repeatedly called on Ottawa to provide money from a $2.1-billion gateway fund for road projects such as the twinning of Route 1 through St. Stephen, a plan that Campbell questions.

“Is this the right envelope to do that from?” he said. “Is it the best bang for the buck?”

Campbell’s comments follow a call last week from Rob Robichaud, president and CEO of the Greater Moncton International Airport, for clarification from Ottawa of the gateway funding criteria.

Robichaud said he would have to make some tough decisions about whether to stay onboard the plan, concerned that gateway money applies only to infrastructure – roads and rail – leading up to the gates of a port or airport, and not for improvements or repairs of the facilities themselves.

Not so, said Transport Canada spokeswoman Maryse Durette. The objectives of the gateway fund are to better connect the national transport system through transfer points and by eliminating bottlenecks.

“As such,” she said, “investments in marine ports and airports can be considered if they achieve this objective.”

Campbell said money needs to be spent on something other than roads, and pointed to sea and rail as the two most fuel-efficient means of transportation.

“If we’re in a high-fuel environment, it begs the question, as a province and as a region, what is the most efficient use of those gateway infrastructure funds,” he said, adding a lot of people in the industry aren’t convinced that it’s road.

The port is the founding member of the Southern New Brunswick Gateway Council, a group of provincial transportation providers whose purpose is to identify and vote on Atlantic Gateway priorities in the region.

The council will then give advice to the federal government on what areas are in urgent need of funding.

“If the decisions and the advice coming from the province are being generated from within the government circles, it could be an opportunity missed,” Campbell said of the province’s calls for highway funding.

Though he didn’t give specifics, New Brunswick Transportation Minister Denis Landry said the province isn’t focused solely on roads.

“We’re lobbying for railway, we’re lobbying for the Moncton airport, we’re lobbying for the ports,” he said.

But Campbell said Landry hasn’t been specific with them either.

“We have a concern if the emphasis is purely highways,” he said.

Landry counsels patience.

“Maybe some people aren’t patient, and I would ask them to be patient,” he said. “There will be a lot of positive things that will come through the gateway for the whole province.”

He said the primary key to making the Atlantic Gateway a reality is for all parties to work together.

“This is to achieve a common goal,” he said. “There are opportunities for everyone if they stick together.”