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Cheryl Gallant pushing highway expansion

Cheryl Gallant, MP Renfrew- Nipissing-Pembroke, has accepted the request by the provincial Minister of Transport to continue to champion the campaign to expand Highway 17 from two to four lanes to the federal government.

"Except for north-western Ontario as a result of the last election, the rest of northern Ontario is without a voice in the federal government," according to MP Gallant. "Unfortunately, it has been that way for years judging by their lack of results. Weak representation has not got the job done."

In a news release, the MP said that as recently as this past month, she spoke with Federal Transport Minister John Baird about Highway 17.

"He agreed that once the next step, which is phase 2 of Highway 17 re-construction, from Campbell Drive west of Arnprior to Renfrew is completed, the province must get on board and include the next phase of construction, for Highway 17, into the provincial five-year plan for new highway construction," stated MP Cheryl Gallant.

"In addition to receiving a prepared Brief from Renfrew County Warden Don Rathwell that I understand was going to be presented to the new Provincial Transport Minister at the upcoming ROMA Conference, a private study was provided to me that actually costs out four laning the Trans- Canada highway from North Bay to the Manitoba border," said Ms. Gallant. "Support for a four lane highway is growing across Northern Ontario."

Individual northern municipalities have been passing motions and forwarding them to Toronto based on the private study.

"To the credit of the North Bay council, when they were presented with a motion to endorse the private report, they amended the motion to include our portion of the trans-Canada from Arnprior to North Bay, Ms. Gallant said." "When I contacted the authors of the private report, How much and when?, it was confirmed that they were in the process of completing a costing of our stretch of trans-Canada highway to be upgraded. I have been told unofficially that when the construction from County Road 29 to Campbell Drive is completed, the cost could be in the $70 million range.

"Depending on how quickly the work is completed, phase two from there to Renfrew could run in the range of $200 million," she These are very large sums of taxpayers' dollars in a time of record government deficits."

An Ontario Trans-Canada, national level highway is the final 25 per cent of a national standard highway. All other provinces have a national level highway.

The Ontario section of the Trans Canada highway is the only region which remains two lane and dangerous, according to the MP.

Other provinces are upgraded, and mainly multilane.

She said the next step could involve the federal government and the Province of Ontario to negotiate a framework agreement to establish division of costs and timelines for completing the various phases of construction to finish fourlaning in Ontario.

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