The new year has begun with what seems to be a steady stream of collisions and road closures across Northern Ontario.

The conversation regarding the state of highways in the North also never seems to end.

Timmins-James Bay MP Charlie Angus has been vocal about it in Parliament and social media circles.

“Right now, we have a whole series of accidents and closures that resulted in unnecessary death,” he told Rogers Media, alluding to the collision that shut down Highway 144 from the 101 turn off to Gogama, and the fatal collision on Highway 11 near Earlton.

“The question we got to ask ourselves is ‘How is it possible that we can have a Trans-Canada Highway—that carries all the trucker goods across the country—being left to two-lane narrow roads in Northern Ontario, where there is no backup if these roads are shut down.”

He says the toll Northern highways are having on lives is “just unacceptable.”

“We need to start talking about the infrastructure of our Northern highways, not just as a provincial issue but as a federal issue as well.”

Angus spoke to some provincial decisions such as the shut down of the Northlander train and the privatization of road maintenance.

Northern highways have also been a big topic of discussion among members of NEOMA.

And with it, another alternative has come up, that being the 2+1 highway model. When asked about it, Angus says the geography and location could play a role on if it would work or not.

“We have spots that are really dangerous,” he said, “Certainly the areas down south of New Liskeard down to North Bay is some of the worst roads you can get anywhere. 2+1 would make a difference. In other areas, we can move to four-lanes.”

He says it’s time for both the province and the feds to make this a priority because the lives of northerners should be valued, and it’s also an economics issue.

“If these are going to be the main trucker transportation routes, then the roads have to be safe and people have to be able to access them,” Angus says.

“I will be following up with the ministers on this.”

Filed under: Local News