The province is taking another look at upgrading the Thunder Bay Expressway, by dividing it and adding six new interchanges.

Thunder Bay-area MPPs Bill Mauro and Michael Gravelle announced Thursday that a contract has been awarded to do the preliminary design study and environmental assessment.

The study will focus on the 13 km section of Highway 11-17 between Arthur and Balsam Streets.

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Thunder Bay-Atikokan MPP Bill Mauro

Mauro said since the expressway was built, most of the city's growth has been north and west of the route,  creating a traffic safety issue.

Doesn't make sense

"It's a roadway obviously where high speeds are allowed and people are having to to cross ... same-level interchanges ... with traffic lights," he said.

"I don't think it makes sense."

Mauro said work had begun in the 90's to improve the expressway, but was dropped by the government of the day.

A report from the consultants won't be ready until 2015.

That's when the government in power at the time will decide whether and when to proceed with any improvements.