News New bill seeks to improve highway maintenance in the north SHARE ON: Nick Birnie, contributor, Thursday, Jun. 6th, 2019 Photo (L to R) Mark Andrews, former OPP North East Region Traffic and Marine Unit Commander, Mario Villeneuve, President of Villeneuve Construction, Mushkegowuk-James Bay MPP Guy Bourgouin and Kapuskasing Mayor Dave Plourde. (Supplied by NDP Media Relations Robin Nieto) Our safety out on the roads during the winter is in need of improvement. That’s according to Mushkegowuk-James Bay MPP Guy Bourgouin, who as of Wednesday introduced a new bill to improve winter road safety for northern drivers and families. Bourgouin says Highway 11 and 17 should be considered in the same grouping as the 400 series highways and the QEW. “It will make Highway 11 and 17 fall under the same regulations, which means our highways should be clean, snow removed within 8 hours after a snowstorm.” This means faster cleanups and that should make for better safety and travel says Bourgouin. Bourgouin says these highways are vital to the livelihood of his communities. “We also know it hurts us because we can’t get to work if the highways are closed, we can’t get to schools, we can’t get to our doctor appoitnments or specialists and these highways should be treated no different than the 400 and the QEW, plus it will make these roads alot safer.” Kapuskasing Mayor Dave Plourde is in support of Bourgouin’s bill, he says Highway 11 is a lifeline of the community, as it is the main access point and winter closures have major consequences on the lives of those living in his area. Plourde also made mention that at next council June 17th, they will be voting on a resolution regarding the bill. Mario Villeneuve, President of Villeneuve Construction said the highways need to be properly maintained to keep traffic flowing, and right now heavy-load traffic is being seen more and more along the Highway 11 corridor. The Ministry of Transportation’s current snow removal classification standards depends on the type of highway and traffic volumes, not on climate or vehicle size and weight. Bourgouin says both highway 11 and 17 needs to start being classified as Class 1.