The mayor of a neighbouring municipality to Thunder Bay, Ont., says she's concerned about what the city's proposed designated route for large trucks will mean for traffic and safety in Kakabeka Falls.
The village, which sits on Highway 11-17, is part of Oliver-Paipoonge. Its mayor, Lucy Kloosterhuis, said with Thunder Bay directing heavy truck traffic passing through the city along the Trans-Canada Highway and Highway 61 only, Kakabeka Falls will see the full brunt of the traffic.
"There's some real concerns in regards to the fact that we have a school right on the highway in the village," Kloosterhuis said. "We have a concern about how the buses are going to get in and out, we have no [traffic] lights."
"To put all the traffic on one road would be disastrous."
Currently, large vehicles — like some dump trucks, tractor trailers and pulp and logging trucks — can also take Highway 102 further north, bypassing Kakabeka Falls and reconnecting with the Trans-Canada within Thunder Bay. City officials are proposing the designated truck route, in part, to stop that from happening, as safety concerns have been raised by people living there.
Kloosterhuis said she understands those concerns but prefers allowing traffic to remain spread out among multiple routes. She said the highway through Kakabeka Falls is already busy, especially in summer, with tourist traffic, local traffic and the large vehicles that do use the route.
"They've so far been able to deal with what we are getting now," she said.
Thunder Bay collecting feedback
Thunder Bay has set up two public sessions on Thursday to gather feedback. Kloosterhuis said administration from her municipality will attend one of them, but will be there "just to listen."
She said the two neighbouring municipalities have corresponded in the past over the issue, something Kayla Dixon, Thunder Bay's director of engineering and operations, also acknowledged. She said she's aware of the concerns but added many small communities on the Trans-Canada Highway have to deal with large vehicles passing through.
Dixon also said the province has examined further highway improvements along the stretch of 11-17 west of Thunder Bay, but none is imminent.
Kloosterhuis said the local municipality has done what it can to improve safety through Kakabeka Falls by upgrading street lights but anything further, like traffic controls, would have to be done by the Ministry of Transportation.