Thunder Bay·Audio

Hwy 17 closure being reviewed by MTO

Ontario's Minister of Transportation says he is reviewing how road maintenance was performed in light of the lengthy weekend closure of Highway 17 between Terrace Bay and Marathon.
Provincial police closed part of Hwy 17 on Saturday and Sunday due to slick road conditions. It has since been re-opened. (CBC)

Ontario's Minister of Transportation says he is reviewing how road maintenance was performed in light of the lengthy weekend closure of Highway 17 between Terrace Bay and Marathon.

Freezing rain and packed ice on the road resulted in closures Saturday and Sunday, day and night. 

Transportation Minister Steven Del Duca says engineers are looking at a number of options to open a second lane on the Nipigon River Bridge. (Ministry of Transportation)
Minister Steven Del Duca said the review will look into whether the private contractor responsible for road maintenance lived up to the province's high standards.

"So I don't know exactly what happened in this case, why there might have been a specific challenge on this stretch of highway, that's why we're doing the review," Del Duca said. "But by-and-large, area contractors have done a strong job."

In October, the ministry announced that it was implementing new performance targets for contractors and hiring new staff to oversee their work this winter.

'Hiccups' at the start of the season

Those targets require the Trans-Canada Highway to be plowed every 2.2 hours in a snowstorm. The highway must be plowed to bare pavement within 16 hours of the end of a storm. (Highway 17 is part of the Trans-Canada Highway).

The president of the Ontario Truckers Association said last winter's "weather bomb" made life difficult for drivers. But David Bradley said he is optimistic that the road maintenance improvements promised by the ministry will make a difference.

"I think there's been some hiccups throughout the province with the first snow falls of the year and maybe that is expected," Bradley said. 

Bradley said road closures take an economic toll on operators, costing about $80 for every hour "the wheels aren't in motion."

There's also a general economic price to be paid when goods can't be delivered on time, he added.

The Ministry of Transportation conducts reviews after every weather-related road closure in the province. The results of the Highway 17 review are expected by the end of the week. If it is found that contractors didn't live up to expectations, they could face fines.

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.