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Saskatchewan’s TCH may be twinned ahead of schedule

REGINA, Sask. -- Canada's Industry Minister, Allan Rock, hinted Oct. 24 that Saskatchewan's portion of the Trans-Ca...

REGINA, Sask. — Canada’s Industry Minister, Allan Rock, hinted Oct. 24 that Saskatchewan’s portion of the Trans-Canada Hwy. (TCH) could be completely twinned well ahead of schedule.

Rock said yesterday that the twinning of the TCH through Saskatchewan has become a priority and funds may be made available to complete the project by 2007, rather than the initial target of 2012.

"We’ve been discussing projects that involve twinning the Trans-Canada at both ends," Rock told media outlets yesterday. "And I think we’re close to announcing an agreement. Twinning the highway is an issue of productivity, getting things to market and allowing for the free flow of people and goods. And the second thing is safety and making sure we have world-class highways to serve the population."

He adds a major infrastructure announcement could be forthcoming within a couple weeks. The funding announcement will likely be linked to the Strategic Infrastructure Fund, announced last December. The fund provides half the cost of new projects from the federal government while the province and municipalities contribute the balance.

Saskatchewan’s Highways Minister, Mark Wartman, recently told Truck News that Saskatchewan is willing to split the cost of twinning the TCH with the feds, much like New Brunswick did earlier this year. However, he was still hoping the federal government would take into consideration the fact the bulk of the investment into the highway over the years came from the province alone.

"When you’re running a very, very tight budget, new money is hard to find," Wartman recently told local media. "If it’s paid out on an incremental basis, it will make it very difficult for us because we have to find the money from somewhere. That will be a big challenge."

Meanwhile, not everyone is convinced Rock’s promise will come to fruition.

Moosomin Mayor, Don Bradley, recently told local media "It’s good news but I’ve been hearing it for 15 years. I’ll believe it when I see it."

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