Saskatchewan mulling twinned highways to U.S.

REGINA — The economic-development authority of southeast Saskatchewan is pushing for the twinning of a highway artery leading to the U.S., but the group is facing some roadblocks on the other side of the border.

Twinning Hwy. 6 south out of Regina, connecting to Hwy. 39, which stretches southeast to the North Portal border, would boost safety, tourism, and economic trade between the province and bordering U.S. states north Dakota and Montana.

But according to the (Regina) Leader-Post, supporters of the concept face challenges in the U.S.

George Stamatinos, assistant deputy minister of Highways and Transportation, tells the newspaper that a Montana wants their Hwy 16 made into a corridor into Canada instead.

That plan would not connect to Hwy. 39. North Dakota, meanwhile, doesn’t seem interested in twinning their highway to North Portal, because the cross-border connection to Manitoba through Emerson is efficient enough, says Stamatinos.

Another hurdle is harmonizing Canada and the U.S. weights and dimension rules.

Traffic counts on Hwy. 39 also don’t reach Highways and Transportation’s current threshold for twinning, added Stamatinos.

Saskatchewan had $6.6 billion worth of trade with the U.S. last year — 75 percent of that by truck.

In March, Premier Lorne Calvert announced a $5 billion investment over the next 10 years for the Transportation for Economic Advantage strategy, which attempts to fundamentally “realign Saskatchewan’s transportation network to meet the current and future needs of the province’s thriving export-based economy.”

The plan includes:

Prioritizing provincial highways part of the National Highway System that connect to national and international markets; enhancing transportation connections in rural areas of increasing economic importance; building new roads and improving existing infrastructure to the remote northern transportation network; and development of a network of shortline railways to improve services available to shippers.

— with files from the Regina Leader-Post

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