Kenora MP Bob Nault remains optimistic. He's hoping to see construction begin on twinning the Trans-Canada before 2021.
"The first phase could start very soon," he said. "So, we're very much hoping the (provincial election) campaign that's on now won't derail that, but in fact it's all part of the long-term plan for highways in The North."
Nault added the design work was pretty much complete and ready to go for the first 19 kilometres of Hwy. 17, starting from the Manitoba border.
"There's no excuse to hold this back and get on with developing that. So, over the next year, we hope to see that happen and get on with the project," added the MP.
He added it was also part of the long-term plan for twinning highways in The North, so it could connect with the western part of the country.
"I think this is a very positive initiative, and a very positive strength of the leter Minister McGarry sent to us," he added, with reference to correspondence between his office and provincial Transport Minister Kathryn McGarry.
An email from MTO spokesman Joshua Henry offers a slightly different view.
"The ministry remains committed to the twinning of Highway 17 from the Ontario/Manitoba border east to Kenora," he says in the message dated May 8.
"Efforts to move forward with construction of the first 15 km of the project, from Manitoba to Rush Bay Road continue. The majority of design and engineering work has been completed. The ministry continues to work towards completing necessary route planning work to identify a four-lane corridor on the remaining 25 kilometres between Rush Bay Road and Kenora," the email continues.
"In both cases, before construction can commence, we have several steps to complete including obtaining environmental clearances and completing consultations with First Nations and Métis communities, to identify and mitigate any potential adverse impacts as a result of the project," Henry concluded.
In May 2009, the prime minister and the premier announced in Kenora $100 million for twinning. First Nations in the area have also linked permission to proceed with the twinning of the Trans-Canada with the completion of Freedom Road. It would link the man-made island of Shoal Lake 40 with Manitoba.
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