Help improve highway safety

Since Nov. 19, when I asked the minister of transportation to address the issue of road maintenance and safety in Northwestern Ontario, my offices have received hundreds of letters from constituents expressing their concerns.
Your message is very clear, and I ask that you continue to send letters so I can share them with the minister.
Of course, one of the most serious issues is the state of the Trans-Canada Highway. Aside from its responsibility to the travellers and semi drivers, the Ministry of Transportation has an obligation to residents as they drive this stretch of road to commute to work, deliver children to school, and drive long distances for medical appointments.
There are far too many road closures and collisions happening on this main artery and the maintenance level must be consistent—regardless of which contractor looks after the road.
The MTO designates Highway 17 as a Class 2 roadway for winter maintenance. This means the Trans-Canada must be restored to bare pavement within 16 hours of a winter event and plowing frequency is supposed to be every 2.2 hours.
By contrast, Highway 105 from Vermilion Bay to Ear Falls is a Class 4 road—to be plowed every 5.5 hours and restored to centre bare within 24 hours of a winter event.
Oddly enough, the 105 rises one class to a Class 3 between Ear Falls and Red Lake. However, according to the letters my office has received, this split class means little since maintenance of the entire highway has gone from poor to terrible in the past couple of years.
The hundreds of commuters who travel the Class 3-designated Highway 72 to Sioux Lookout several times a week for work or dialysis, among other things, have reported that plowing occurs far more infrequently than the 3.3 hours it is supposed to.
In recent weeks, I’ve heard that several days have gone by without seeing bare pavement, regardless of the fact the highway is supposed to be bare within 24 hours of a winter event.
Meanwhile, the lack of proper maintenance on Highway 502 from Dryden to Fort Frances has been the subject of countless e-mails, telephone calls, walk-ins, Facebook messages, and YouTube videos, and appears to be only part of the problem.
The highway has been designated a Class 5–the absolute lowest classification for road maintenance.
The contractor only is required to restore this roadway to snow-packed condition within 24 hours following the end of a winter event, and plowing frequency only has to be every 10 hours.
As all of us in the north are very aware that “snow-covered” roads translates to “ice-covered” roads very quickly, and it is the thick layer of glare ice that already has made driving this route quite treacherous.
I think it is worth repeating that several highways are being maintained to standard or above, and we all thank those contractors and their employees for their hard work in improving safety on Northwestern Ontario roads.
To date, my staff has contacted the MTO on behalf of constituents with a number of specific questions, and still are awaiting a response.
As well, I’ve continued to press the minister of transportation to commit to a date when he will visit the region and experience some of these roads first-hand.

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