Ontario’s Hwy. 69 to stay toll-free: MPP

SUDBURY, Ont. (April 5, 2004) — After over a week of media speculation, an Ontario cabinet minister has stepped up to deny parts of Hwy. 69 will be tolled in order to boost the cash-strapped province.

Ontario’s Minister of Northern Development Rick Bartolucci confirmed to the Sudbury Star that any future highway toll policy would not include Hwy. 69 — the main route linking Toronto to Sudbury, Ont.

It has taken the government almost two weeks to clearly define its intentions regarding the northern highway. Last month, Premier Dalton McGuinty refused to back-off suggestions that Hwy. 69 would be included in a policy to toll any new highways or expansions. However, during an election campaign last fall, McGuinty promised that Hwy. 69 would be kept out of any toll-talks.

Although the highway from Parry Sound to Sudbury was reportedly scheduled to be expanded to four lanes later this year, Bartolucci told the newspaper the Liberal government did not inherit any formal agreement when it took over for the Tories last fall. He said the $100 million the previous government claimed was set aside for the project, wasn’t in place.

However, he said his department is still working closely with Infrastructure Minister David Caplan on a funding strategy in partnership with the federal government.

— with files from Canadian Press

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