Kenora – Rainy River MPP Greg Rickford says the government's new safety improvements for Highway 11 and Highway 17 will help to save the lives of northwestern Ontarians each winter.

The Ministry of Transportation says after a technical review of safety and snow-clearing on Highway 11 and 17, they will be implementing a new ‘ON Trans-Canada’ service level with snow expected to be cleared to bare pavement within 12 hours of a snowstorm.

“It’s a work in progress, but I think it’s an improvement,” said Rickford, on the Q Morning Show. “But you can’t do that until you have the latest and greatest technology.”

Rickford, who also serves as the Minister of Indigenous Services and the Minister of Northern Development for Ontario, says the 12-hour notice is about a 4-hour improvement to what northwestern Ontario currently sees, and explains some of the new technological improvements.

“[We have] new underbody plows that have better performance and removal of snowpack compared to conventional plows,” adds Rickford.

“We also have some additional road weather information stations, and folks will remember last year, that there’s a new approach to shutting down segments of the highway to make sure they were absolutely clear for traffic to flow. I think we’re in a better place to go forward with the new standard.”

Ontario adds that contractors will also increase the use of anti-icing liquids, and staff are looking at geometric improvements such as removing rock in specific areas to improve sunlight exposure to melt snow on top of the roadway.