Provincial election candidates in the northeast are driving home messages about transportation, roads maintenance and infrastructure.
For several years, the twinning of Highway 69 has been a priority project for outgoing Sudbury Liberal MPP Rick Bartolucci.
Liberal candidate Andrew Olivier said he plans push forward with that project if he’s elected, “and really connect southern Ontario to Sudbury."
The NDP promise to twin or improve passing lanes on 30 additional kilometers per year, over and above what's being done now.
Timiskaming-Cochrane NDP candidate John Vanthof noted winter road maintenance needs to be considered.
"We've committed to put 200 more plows and or sanders on the roads next winter."
Nipissing Progressive Conservative candidate Vic Fedeli said his party is also promising to improve highways, but noted the decision about which highway gets the attention shouldn't be left to politics.
"This is the role of the experts at MTO and this is the continued role of the municipalities,” he said.
Fedeli added his party also plans to address winter maintenance. The Conservatives are waiting for a report on highway maintenance expected this year from the auditor general.
Promises to bring back rail service
Access to passenger rail is limited in northeastern Ontario, the NDP says, and that underscores their promise to bring back rail service through the Ontario Northland Transportation Commission, if they’re elected.
Vanthof noted all public transit is subsidized, including rail service in southern Ontario.
His party’s plan isn't to just reinstate the train between Cochrane and Toronto — but to improve the service.
"We're going to have to look at changing the schedule, changing how it's done to bring more people onto that train."
The estimated cost to do that would be about $12 million annually, Vanthof said
Although Fedeli said the NDP promise likely comes too late — and that the rail cars are already gone — he said the issue remains part of the PC’s platform.
"It would be part of, you know, an entire strategic review would look at all of Ontario Northland."
The Liberals were the party to announce the sale of the ONTC, and later said the company would be "transformed" as an alternative.
Olivier noted his party will review the entire corporation.