Friday, July 19, 2024
Image: Ontario

Budget’s better highways all good news, Truckers say

Highway 101 “looks like someone drove along throwing hand grenades out the window”

While virtually none of the highway infrastructure projects listed in Ontario’s 2024 Budget are new, even the re-announces are good news, says Travis McDougall of Truckers for Safer Highways.

Travis McDougall of Truckers for Safer Highways

“Some of the big projects are started but not finished,” McDougall says, pointing out specifically Highway 11/17 between Thunder Bay and Nipigon. “We are happy to see confirmation that the projects are ongoing and continuing to receive money in this Budget.”

Several other highway projects listed were also included in the 2023 Budget, including completing the widening of Highway 17 from two to four lanes for 22.5 km between Arnprior and Renfrew, and Widening Highway 3 from two to four lanes for 15.6 km between Essex and Leamington.

Highway 7 from Kitchener to Guelph was not only previously announced, “but hasn’t even been started yet,” McDougall says. (On February 28th, Ontario announced that “contractors will be invited to submit proposals for the replacement of the Frederick Street bridge.”)

It has become standard practice in recent years for Budget documents to contain not only spending priorities for the year ahead, but also projects announced in the past and underway in the present. This blurring of timelines may present challenges to taxpayers attempting to ascertain whether the Budget represents “new” spending or re-announcements of completed spending.

For example, use of the present tense in the 2024 Budget commitment that Ontario is “supporting the construction and repair of municipal roads and bridges that connect to provincial highways through communities, including the reconstruction of Highway 101 through Timmins” was not only previously announced, but “the road looks like someone drove along throwing hand grenades out the window” McDougall exclaims. “It’s a disaster! We are encouraged to hear there are plans to repair Highway 101. But I can tell you right now, it’s still a disaster.”

Widening Highway 17 from Kenora to the Manitoba border is a great initiative, he says: “That’s awesome…in the summer, it’s one of the busiest stretches of road in Canada, when Winnipeggers leave home to drive to their cottages in Kenora. Miles and miles of two-lane highway packed with family cars. We will be very glad to see that done.”

Overall, McDougall says, Truckers for Safer Highways is pleased to see the current government’s commitment to road funding.