Shoal Lake's Freedom Road design complete, price tag reduced

An isolated reserve near the Manitoba-Ontario boundary is a step closer to being connected with the outside world.

The road will connect Shoal Lake 40 First Nation to the Trans-Canada Highway

From left, Daryl Redsky, consultation officer, Chief Erwin Redsky, both of Shoal Lake 40 First Nation, and Phil Cesario, design project manager at PM Associates Ltd. go over the final design drawings for Freedom Road, an all-weather road which will connect the reserve to the Trans Canada highway. (John Woods/The Canadian Press)

An isolated reserve near the Manitoba-Ontario boundary is a step closer to being connected with the outside world.

Shoal Lake 40 First Nation has received final design plans for a road that will link the reserve to the Trans-Canada Highway. 

The design plan comes with a price tag of $33 million — $3 million more than the original estimate five years ago but well below the $50 million estimate in recent months.

Phil Cesario, the design project manager, says some cost-cutting was done by narrowing the road slightly and by realigning some sections to reduce the need for rock blasting.

Efforts are underway to start construction in the new year.

Shoal Lake 40 was cut off from the mainland a century ago during construction of an aqueduct that is used to supply fresh water to Winnipeg.

The reserve has been under a boil-water advisory for 18 years.