New plan for northern prairie roads

PRINCE ALBERT, Sask. — A new committee has been tasked with guiding development of the transportation network for northern Saskatchewan.

The Northern Transportation Advisory Committee (NTAC) held its first meeting in Prince Albert, Sask. recently and has a mandate to advise government on the development of a comprehensive Northern Transportation Strategy.

A key task of the committee will be to develop a system for identifying and ranking potential upgrades to provincial highways in the north. This system will be modeled on the ministry’s existing Rural Highways Strategy (RHS).

Under the RHS, nearly 300 highway corridors in the south were assessed using a consistent set of criteria with the highest ranking corridors being included the five-year capital plan.

"We have had considerable success in addressing the infrastructure challenges in rural Saskatchewan by working in partnership with key stakeholders to develop a transparent and consistent system for prioritizing transportation investments," Highways and Infrastructure Minister Jim Reiter said. "We will repeat this success in the north by developing a similar system that recognizes the unique circumstances of northern Saskatchewan and balances the demands for investment in both key economic corridors and community access roads."

The committee includes representatives of New North, the Meadow Lake Tribal Council, the Prince Albert Grand Council, Area Transportation Planning Committees and associations representing industries such as mining, tourism, forestry and oil and gas.

While the work of the committee will be ongoing, it is anticipated that a policy framework will be developed for inclusion in 2010-11 budget process.

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