McGuinty Government Secures Partnership To Improve Northern Highways
TORONTO - The McGuinty government is delivering on its commitment to improve Northern Ontario highways with today's signing of the joint federal-provincial agreement on the Strategic Highway Infrastructure Program (SHIP), Minister of Northern Development and Mines Rick Bartolucci announced today.
"This agreement, which paves the way for millions in federal infrastructure dollars, had been left dormant by the previous government for months," said Bartolucci. "Our government realized the importance of this exciting partnership and moved quickly to secure the agreement. It is clearly a step forward for a number of our key highway priorities like Highway 69 four-laning."
Through SHIP, the Government of Canada is making $485 million available to all provinces to improve and expand routes that have been designated as part of the National Highway System. Ontario's share will be $168 million up to 2008-2009. The province must provide matching funds for qualifying SHIP projects on a 50/50 basis. The total expenditure for Northern Ontario will be approximately $150 million. All projects nominated to date under SHIP have received provincial environmental approval, but must also now obtain federal environmental approvals before proceeding. Specific northern projects included in the agreement are:
• five projects on Highway 69 that are part of the four-laning work between Barrie and Sudbury. Three contracts are located between Parry Sound and Sudbury and two are located south of Parry Sound ;
• construction on Highway 17 of the next 7.3 km section of new four-lane highway east of Sault Ste. Marie;
• construction of a new 13 km two-lane section of Highway 11/17 west of Thunder Bay (Shabaqua Highway).
"Despite the fiscal challenges left to us by the previous government, our government remains committed to developing and implementing a Northern Ontario Highways Strategy. The SHIP agreement will help us realize this goal but much work remains," said Bartolucci. "I look forward to working with my colleague, Harinder Takhar, Minister of Transportation, and with the appropriate federal ministries to complete all necessary environmental review processes so that construction of northern projects can begin as soon as possible."