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Saskatchewan constructs winter link to Northern communities

REGINA, Sask. -- Construction is underway on ice roads used to supply remote communities without land access in Nor...

REGINA, Sask. — Construction is underway on ice roads used to supply remote communities without land access in Northern Saskatchewan.

The recent cold weather in northern Saskatchewan has allowed the ice over Wollaston Lake and Lake Athabasca to thicken to the point that the ice roads could be built, said Highways and Transportation Minister Eldon Lautermilch. This is great news for the Northern communities that rely on these roads to transport goods into the community. The alternative, which is to fly the goods into northern airports, means considerable cost being added to the goods that families need.

Construction has been completed on the Wollaston Lake ice road, which is 46 km long and connects Hwy. 905 (about 22 km south of the Rabbit Lake Mine) to the community of Wollaston Lake. Construction began on Jan. 29 at the community of Wollaston and the road opened Feb. 2 to light vehicle traffic.

The Athabasca seasonal road and related ice roads are constructed in four sections for a total length of 358 km.

The first section is a 183 km bladed trail over land, from Points North to Black Lake, operated as a winter road only. The second section from Stony Rapids to Shasko Bay is constructed over land and frozen muskeg for a total of 50 km. The third section is 30 km over ice from Shasko Bay to Fond du Lac. This road is anticipated to be open by the end of the week.

Construction will begin on the fourth section 93 km from Fond du Lac to Uranium City once the third section is complete.

In the past 10 years, both the Wollaston Lake and Lake Athabasca ice roads have on average opened around mid-February.

We are pleased that the ice roads could be built this year within a normal time frame to bring needed supplies to these communities, Lautermilch said. However, we know year-round land access is required to provide remote Northern communities with better access to economic development opportunities, employment, healthcare, education and more. We are committed to this goal.

The province will provide $65.5 million to build new roads and improve existing ones in Northern Saskatchewan under Roads to Prosperity the Northern Economic Infrastructure Strategy announced in the fall of 2006. This includes constructing a 110 km all-weather road from Wollaston Lake to Hwy. 905, upgrading the Athabasca seasonal road from Points North to Black Lake to an all-weather surface, and constructing an 88 km all-weather road from Stony Rapids to the south shore of Fond du Lac.

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