Demonstration planned to prove road can’t handle rigs

SASKATOON, Sask. — A group of concerned Saskatchewan residents have planned a demonstration Jan. 14 in hopes of convincing politicians that a stretch of Hwy. 51 is unfit for travel.

The Hwy. 51 Action Committee was formed after a Nov. 24 crash that claimed the lives of three people.

Committee member, Karen Zimmer, says the government has neglected the deadly stretch of highway that is a well-travelled truck route.

“The majority of traffic involves heavy haul traffic and these semis have no choice but to be on these roads,” says Zimmerman, noting that the local oil and farm industries require the use of big rigs.

She says Highways and Transportation Minster Mark Wartman has shrugged off the committee’s concerns, saying the road is not intended for the use of big rigs.

While the minimum legal width of highway is 24-feet, the stretch linking Saskatoon to Red Deer, Alta. is much narrower in parts because of erosion and a crumbling road surface, points out Zimmer.

A bus ride will take place at 1 p.m., in which a semi truck will escort a bus full of politicians and committee members. The committee hopes that by following the truck, the politicians will see just how closely trucks come to hitting oncoming vehicles.

“Some trucks have actually lost their rearview mirrors while passing each other in opposite directions,” says Zimmer. “This road needs to be rebuilt before accidents, injuries and a loss of life occur.”

Former Highways and Transportation Minister, Pat Atkinson, will represent the department on the tour.

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