Highway Closures in Effect Due to Weather Along Highway 17

Highway Closure

Thunder Bay – NEWS – Weather conditions have caused Highway 17 to be closed at Shabaqua, Ignace and at Dinorwic.

The forecast across the region includes a Freezing Drizzle Alert.

Before heading out check road conditions.

Editorial COMMENTARY – Highway Conditions and the Trans-Canada Highway

How often do collisions close Highways 11 and 17? While work on twinning sections of the road continue, the real solution is a national solution.

For almost sixty years, the dialogue surrounding Highway 17 across Northern Ontario has been marked by a sequence of pledges for its twinning, yet the progress has been slow and fragmented. This winter, the heightened frequency of highway closures highlights the issue’s severity.

The Trans-Canada Highway, threading through Northern Ontario, represents a significant vulnerability in our national network. With each closure, whether due to weather or accidents, Canada’s road connectivity fractures, impacting not just the local regions but the entire country.

This situation is not just a local inconvenience; it’s a national embarrassment. The Trans-Canada Highway’s condition in Northern Ontario is a glaring weakness in our national infrastructure, calling for immediate federal and provincial intervention.

Truck delays and halted traffic during these closures disrupt our national economy, as virtually all Canadian goods travel by road. The recent produce shortages in Thunder Bay’s grocery stores due to road closures underscore the far-reaching consequences of this issue.

Ontario’s promise to twin Highway 17 from the Manitoba boundary to Kenora is a positive step, but it’s a small-scale solution for a challenge that demands a grander vision. Canada, forged on the ambition of a national railway, now requires a similar boldness in its road network.

The responsibility does not lie solely with the Ontario Government. The issue stems from a long-standing national complacency towards the Trans-Canada Highway’s management. Emerging from the COVID-19 era, Canada should aspire to a new national transportation goal: a twinned and standardized coast-to-coast-to-coast highway.

Additionally, the variability in provincial trucking standards contributes to accidents and fatalities in our region. A unified national standard for trucking companies is overdue.

Where Ontario particularly falls short is in its snow clearing standards, which appear to be influenced more by Southern Ontario’s needs than those of the North. Northern highways demand more rigorous winter maintenance and snow clearing to ensure safety and reliability.

Canada must prioritize enhancing its national highway network to ensure its accessibility and safety. This includes reconsidering the privatization of snow clearing services.

For too long, this problem has been neglected, allowing it to worsen. The time for decisive action and lasting solutions is now.

James Murray

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