Premier Gordon Campbell and Highways Minister Kevin Falcon found themselves on the defensive today at what should have been a good news event -- the start of demolition on the Coquihalla Highway toll plaza.

Campbell had to explain why the government spent $100,000 to upgrade the plaza six months before the tolls were scrapped

The premier called the upgrades "necessary maintenance" because the buildings had old floors and were leaking.

"We don't expect workers in B.C. to work in those conditions," Campbell told CTV News.

Campbell says the cost of the upgrades will be negated by the $57 million travellers could potentially save by not paying the $10 to $50 toll levies.

The toll booths are located on Highway 5 -- 70 kilometres south of Merritt.

Campbell took the first swipe at the buildings from behind the controls of a bulldozer.

While the toll booths are coming down, the washrooms will remain intact for what will become a rest area for travellers on the highway.

Meanwhile, Campbell says the 17 auxiliary toll workers laid off after the tolls were scrapped will get other government-related work if they want it.

Tolls have been in place since the highway was completed more than 20 years ago but the premier cancelled the levies last Friday, saying they have now financed most of the nearly $850 million cost of construction.