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Del Duca promises to make Highways 11,17 Class 1

Liberal leader Stephen Del Duca visited Thunder Bay on May 22 and promised to designate Highways 11 and 17 as Class 1 Highways. Photo: Ontario Liberal News

Liberal Leader Steven Del Duca promised to designate Highway 11 and Highway 17 as Class 1 highways, TBnewswatch.com reports.

Del Duca made the pledge on May 22nd morning during a brief visit to Thunder Bay’s Goods and Co. Market, where he visited with supporters and local business owners, reported TBNW’s Leith Dunick. The media release posted to the Liberal Party’s website makes no mention of the pledge to designate the highways as Class 1.

When asked why he didn’t make the move when he was Ontario’s Minister of Transportation from 2014 to 2018, Del Duca replied, “Look, right now, I’m running to be premier. I’m not running to be a senior cabinet minister and what I learned in my time at the MTO is that we need to do more to support highway and road safety and maintenance throughout the province, including here in and around Thunder Bay, across the North, across the Northwest. That’s why we’ve made this decision as part of our platform.”

Richard Deschamps, whose petition to make Ontario’s roads safer has surpassed its initial goal of 15,000 signatures, told Road Warrior News “Basically, we are asking Ontario to admit there is a problem, and to do something about it.”

Deschamp identified two major issues that need to be corrected: truck driver training programs in which drivers are licensed in southern Ontario, and then allowed to drive in northern Ontario where they are completely unfamiliar with winter road conditions; and the physical maintenance and infrastructure of the highway.

Supporters of the Facebook page “Hwy 11 & 17 Kills People” were pleased to see safety on Highway 11 even being acknowledged: Samuel John noted,  “We need that regardless of what political party gets in. See what happens. Give it the same attention as the 400 series highways.”

Others are more skeptical. Larry James wrote, “Keep in mind as minister of transport under Wynne’s government what he (Del Duc a) did for you then….nothing.”