The Manitoba government says it is making the largest-ever investment in the Trans-Canada Highway since its construction more than 40 years ago.
The province intends to spend $213 million on a series of projects along the 320-kilometre stretch from Winnipeg to the Saskatchewan boundary.
The projects involved fully paving the shoulders, installing rumble strips, resurfacing, improving intersections and building new bridges, Infrastructure and Transportation Minister Steve Ashton announced on Monday.
"This announcement is historic. I want to stress again, this is the biggest single investment that we're going to see on the Trans-Canada Highway since it was constructed," Ashton told reporters in Winnipeg.
"We're going to full standards," he added, describing "full standards" as "equivalent to the Interstate in the U.S., equivalent to any highway across Canada."
Funding for the Trans-Canada upgrades will come from revenue that has been generated since the provincial sales tax was raised to eight per cent last year, Ashton said.
Speed limit increase a possibility
Once the work is completed, the provincial government may consider raising the speed limit in some sections from 100 km/h to 110 — a possibility that has the approval of CAA Manitoba.
"The ability to move about the province [in] an efficient manner is very important to our members, so a 110 [km/h speed limit] in the areas that allow for it would very welcomed by our members," said Tim Scott, CAA Manitoba's vice-president of marketing and sales.
Terry Shaw of the Manitoba Trucking Association says he likes the plans for road resurfacing and shoulder paving, as well as bridge upgrades.
"The rehabilitation of the bridge is to ensure that we can operate at full legal weights as opposed to potentially reduced weights," he said.
"It's investments like these that allow us to find those efficiencies and operate at maximum capacity."
The highway projects expected to begin this summer include:
- 14.8 kilometres of paving of the westbound lanes, including shoulders and adding rumble strips from the Portage la Prairie bypass to Highway 13.
- Seven kilometres of paving of the eastbound lanes including shoulders, starting from just west of the Yellowhead Highway intersection.
- 27.4 kilometres of micro-surfacing from Highway 351 to Highway 34
- Five kilometres of micro-surfacing of the eastbound lanes starting from the junction of Highway 10.
- 6.2 kilometres of micro-surfacing of the eastbound lanes from Highway 270 to Highway 10.
- 16.1 kilometres of high-performance chip seals (pavement preservation treatment) of the eastbound lanes from 13.2 kilometres east of Highway 41 to Highway 83.
“The remaining projects will be completed by 2020 as part of a multi-year plan that would not be possible without devoting all of the new revenue from the one-cent-on-the-dollar sales tax increase,” said Ashton.
The remaining projects include:
- Intersection improvements between Headingley and Highway 334.
- Intersection improvements between Camp Manitou Road and the John Blumberg Golf Course.
- Six kilometres of paving of the east and westbound lanes, including shoulders from Highway 26 to Gaol Road.
- 16 kilometres of paving of the east and westbound lanes, including shoulders from Highway 248 to Highway 26.
- 18.8 kilometres of paving of the east and westbound lanes, including shoulders from Highway 13 to Highway 248.
- Structure rehabilitation on the westbound lanes at Assiniboine River, about one kilometre west of Highway 26.
- Structure replacement on the westbound lanes at La Salle River, one kilometre west of Highway 13.
- Structure replacement on the Portage la Prairie bypass.
- Structure rehabilitation on the eastbound lanes at Portage la Prairie diversion.
- 35 kilometres of paving of the east and westbound lanes from the Yellowhead Highway intersection to one kilometre west of Highway 34.
- 1.2 kilometres of gravel road restoration of the north-side service road in Brandon.