Highway 6 safety a byelection issue

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HIGHWAY safety has emerged as an issue in the Thompson byelection that had to be called because an MLA died in a car crash on Highway 6 last year.

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HIGHWAY safety has emerged as an issue in the Thompson byelection that had to be called because an MLA died in a car crash on Highway 6 last year.

The leader of the NDP — whose caucus lost Danielle Adams on Dec. 9 — asked the Progressive Conservative government during question period Wednesday why it has “failed Thompson.”

“Northerners want a government that they can trust when it comes to health care and highways and an affordable quality of life,” Wab Kinew said.

JESSICA LEE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES Thompson MLA Danielle Adams died after her SUV hit a gas truck about 200 kilometres south of Thompson while driving to Winnipeg in poor weather conditions.

In response, Premier Heather Stefanson said her government will invest $1.5 billion in infrastructure projects over the next three years, which includes highways in the north, and the City of Thompson will receive $150,000 for pothole repairs from a $15-million fund announced Monday. She said the province also announced a new pool for the northern city funded by all three levels of government.

“There are many investments that we will continue to make in Thompson to ensure that the citizens in Thompson have the tools they need moving forward,” Stefanson said.

Announcements about any new government investments, however, will have to wait until after the June 7 Thompson byelection, according to election media blackout rules.

Adams’ SUV hit a gas truck about 200 kilometres south of Thompson as she drove to Winnipeg in poor weather conditions.

After the tragedy, northern leaders called for an inquest to probe ways to make the highway safer, including improvements to maintenance and snow clearing.

On Thursday, Manitobans who are pushing for safety improvements on Highway 6 will converge at the legislative building to demand action.

The Safer Highway 6 Citizens Action Group will present Transportation Minister Doyle Piwniuk with a brief on what it says needs to be done to reduce accidents.

It will also give him a petition signed by 5,600 Manitobans, and dozens of letters of support from leaders of northern towns, First Nations, chambers of commerce and youth sport groups.

The group plans to show the minister how dangerous Highway 6 is to drive in winter; its brief will include photos and a long list of accident victims, it said in a news release.

Specific improvements are needed to achieve international standards for road safety for the benefit of northerners and visitors along the 750-kilometre transportation corridor that connects Winnipeg to Thompson, it said.

Moving freight is an essential service but the high volume of semi and double-length trailer traffic every day makes driving in winter dangerous and nerve wracking for most other travellers, the Safer Highway 6 group said.

It cited Manitoba Public Insurance statistics that show an average of seven to eight mishaps a month, including rollovers and fatal head-on collisions.

carol.sanders@freepress.mb.ca

Carol Sanders

Carol Sanders
Legislature reporter

After 20 years of reporting on the growing diversity of people calling Manitoba home, Carol moved to the legislature bureau in early 2020.

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