The twinning of Highway 17 could start as soon as the spring, says Kenora MP Bob Nault. He says environmental assessments are underway, and that construction could start early next year.

“Highway twinning is coming along. The provincial government has given the department of transportation the go-ahead to update the environmental assessment process. My understanding is engineering is done for the first 15 kilometres of the road, so there’s no reason why we can’t get started as early as next spring.”

Nault added that environmental assessment upgrades shouldn’t take too long, as that they are a simple update on the area’s environment. The assessments presumably haven’t been updated since 2009, when funding for the project was originally announced.

“All the people in the region and all the First Nation communities are all supportive and waiting for the work to start. The federal government is very supportive of this top priority, so I think that will be very helpful. I really do believe that it’s imperative to get this job done. It’s important to our region.”

Last August, Nault said he was 'shocked' by a provincial report that said it could take until 2021, before the project moved ahead.

“When Doug Ford was here, we talked about twinning of the highway to the Manitoba border. It’s good for everybody, the whole area. Ford seemed quite keen on the project,” said Mayor Dave Canfield, after meetings with Ontario Premier Doug Ford earlier this year.

A year ago, Nault said it was also possible the $100 million allocated for the district -- which has been sitting at Queen's Park -- may have been used for the road improvements near Thunder Bay, instead of Kenora.

Kenora Rainy-River MPP Greg Rickford has announced that the twinning of Highway 17 is one of his top priorities, and has been working closely with the Ministry of Transportation to push the file forward.

The $100 million in funding was announced for the highway twinning project in 2009.

For more information:
Rickford impatient for progress