Bill calls on feds to help fix Northern Ontario highway

QUEEN’S PARK, Ont. — Sault Ste. Marie MPP David Orazietti has sent out a public petition and city council resolution to gain support for his private member’s bill that calls on the federal government to support enhancements to Hwy. 17 in Northern Ontario.

“Northerners deserve a new deal from the federal government when it comes to Trans Canada Highway funding and historically there is a greater obligation that Ottawa needs to live up to,” said Orazietti. “This is a chance for communities along Hwy. 17 to express their views and support a project that will improve the economy, safety and quality of life for everyone in Northern Ontario.”

Bill 149 — An Act Respecting the Improvement of Highway 17, Part of the Trans Canada Highway — calls on Ottawa to enter into a cost-sharing agreement with the province to improve the Northern Ontario section of the national highway.

The proposed legislation passed first reading on October 17, 2006, was introduced for second reading and has been referred to the Standing Committee on General Government.

The project would modernize the Trans Canada in Northern Ontario, and includes improved safety measures such as additional passing lanes, paved shoulders, rumble strips, rest stops, and ultimately a four-lane divided highway.

“The Ontario Trucking Association supports the move. “This two- lane highway, which is quite narrow in many places, is carrying more and more traffic, including trucks, and its time to address the need for improvements,” says President David Bradley. “Adding more rest areas, passing lanes, paved shoulders, and ultimately widening to four lanes will all have an impact on the safety and efficiency of this key link not only between Ontario and the western provinces, but between the communities in northern Ontario.”

At only 10 percent, the Trans Canada in Northern Ontario has the lowest percentage of four-laned highway when compared to any other jurisdiction in the country, says Orazietti.

Locals say driving on certain portions of Hwy. 17 can be dangerous without separated traffic, especially in the winter when snow and ice plays havoc with road conditions.

An annual average of 39 fatalities occur as a result of collisions on the highway, says Orazietti.

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