Thunder Bay·Audio

Trans Canada highway twinning needs tweaking, Nipigon area residents say

A man from the Nipigon area say the provincial government's proposed route for twinning the Trans Canada highway near the Black Sturgeon River is in the wrong spot.

Ben and Shy-Anne Bartlett say the proposed twinning that intersects their land needs to be in a different spot

Ben and Shy-Anne Bartlett at the site proposed for a new bridge over the Black Sturgeon River. (Gord Ellis/CBC)
Ben and shy-Anne Bartlett own a home along the Trans-Canada highway near Nipigon. They have concerns about where a proposed four laning and bridge is going to go.

A man from the Nipigon area says the provincial government's proposed route for twinning the Trans Canada highway near the Black Sturgeon River is in the wrong spot.

Ben Bartlett told CBC News the Ministry of Transportation's suggested location for a new bridge and highway will have a negative impact on some landowners, and could disrupt groundwater.

Moving the highway just a bit further north solves most of the problems, he said.

However the MTO has already cut a right-of-way through his property to the proposed bridge site.

"Somebody came on our property and cut a bunch of trees, but we aren't trying to dwell on that," Bartlett said.

"We're still trying to focus on 'let's find the best location.' It's nice to see the exact spot the MTO is talking about, but this is an unstable spot."

Bartlett said he and his wife support the twinning  and understand their land will be impacted either way. They've shared their concerns with Thunder Bay Superior North MPP Michael Gravelle, and said the minister has been supportive of their plan.

Ben and Shy-Anne Bartlett say they support the twinning of Highway 17 near their property, but believe the highway and bridge need to be in a different place. They have been in contact with the Ministry of Transportation about their proposal for the highway twinning and a bridge. (Gord Ellis/CBC)

Environmental concerns 

The couple's alternate plan shortens the highway by about 250 metres.

"And when you actually do the math, based on what the MTO said in 1996 about how much traffic went by, that 250 metres saves about three trips to the moon worth of travelling on the highway per year," said Bartlett's wife Shy-Anne.

"[That] is quite a bit of gas emissions."

She also noted there is "a high moose collision area at a passing lane on the present highway. [The ministry] has the new highway coming out right where that moose collision areas is. So the existing highway and new highway will be a dumping ground for moose coming out of that area. "Our plan avoids that moose collision area."

The couple told CBC News their "neighbours are really supportive."

"They are the ones who are truly impacted," Bartlett said.

"The re-alignment goes right behind their houses. The on-ramp splits between the two of them. [But] our [proposed] alignment pushes it just a couple hundred metres behind their houses and it will make a big difference to their rural lifestyle."

Bartlett noted there is still time to adjust the MTO's plan, as major work on the highway is not expected to begin until the fall of 2017.

"We are hoping for public support," he continued.

"We are going to keep pushing with MTO. There is certainly time left to do the right thing here."


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