North Included In $5-Billion Transportation Plan

Tuesday, March 06, 2007 at 13:37



The provincial government has announced a new $5-billion transportation strategy for Saskatchewan — a plan the NDP government is calling the largest program for transportation improvements the province has ever seen.


Premier Lorne Calvert says over the next 10 years, the plan will fundamentally alter Saskatchewan’s transportation network to meet the needs of the province’s thriving export-based economy.


Highways Minister Eldon Lautermilch says decisions on investments will be prioritized in a way that provides the greatest economic and social dividends to the province.


The government says the six pillars of this strategy include the development of a network of international gateways and corridors, urban connectors, rural economic corridors, northern economic infrastructure, First Nations connections and regional shortline railways and airports.


The plan includes a previously-announced $65.5-million commitment to build new roads and improve existing infrastructure to link remote northern communities to the transportation network — with the intention of improving northern access to natural resources, job opportunities, healthcare and education.


In addition, the government says the planned twinning of Highway 11 between Saskatoon and Prince Albert will position this corridor as the province’s “northern gateway”.


Calvert says the government will also develop improved access roads off the broader highway network to southern First Nations communities.


Of the 58 First Nations in southern Saskatchewan, 33 have only gravel road access. The government says this seriously limits economic and social opportunities in communities that are among the most deprived in Canada.


In the vast majority of cases, the roads involved do not fall under provincial jurisdiction and are either municipal or on-reserve responsibility.