About 10 years ago, Ontario awoke (sort of) to the fact that its section of the TransCanada is at least 20 years behind the times.  I would like to think that petitions originating with our town had a little bit to do with this awakening.  The highway has since become even more grossly inadequate, routinely closed because of accidents – it is not designed for the traffic it carries.  It is costing the province dearly in that most of Canada’s transcontinental traffic goes through the US to avoid this highway, with attendant loss of economic activity, not to mention fuel taxes.

As a result of this awakening, Ontario dropped its plan to put its portion of federal TransCanada money into the new bridge at Detroit, and instead started a long-term program to bring the TransCanada up to date.  They started by building a new highway from the TransCanada at Sudbury south to the center of the universe, Toronto, and that is finished now.  Next stage is to turn to the TransCanada itself.

The long-range plan adopted for the TransCanada in northwestern Ontario was to finish the Nipigon river bridge, and then build a four-lane highway from there to the city of Thunder Bay, and that is nearly done.  The third project would be a four-lane divided highway from the Manitoba border to the Kenora by-pass.   This project ought to have started construction by now, but is stalled over route negotiations,  which have been turned by the political parties into a political football with no resolution in sight, so that even design cannot start.  The budget is not being spent, and this might be acceptable to senior governments, as they can appear to be doing something while putting the money where the votes are, which is not the northwest.  This situation might go on indefinitely.

The fourth project was to be the Dryden bypass.  As you travel west from Quebec, the TransCanada is a freeway until you get past Ottawa.  Then every urban area, Arnprior, Renfrew, Pembroke, North Bay, Sudbury, Sault St Marie, Thunder Bay, Kenora, all are bypassed, so no important part of the highway is on an urban street.  Except Dryden, with its 4 miles of reduced speed, 4 soon to be 5 traffic lights, and myriad of cross streets and driveways, making it the biggest single roadblock on the entire trip.

A plan was developed for this fourth project, the Dryden bypass.  It would be a four lane freeway running alongside the TransCanada gas pipeline, from west of our city limits to Airport road.   An excellent plan, with good access to our town, close enough in to be helpful to local traffic.

It would be good politics to get it built before the forces of evil get on it, so that instead of this very sensible plan we end up with something like the Kenora bypass, wandering all over the bush like a lost dog, or like the Sudbury bypass, misses the city by miles, both useless as far as local traffic is concerned.  It would also be good politics to push for the whole enchilada, 4 lanes with an interchange coming into Dryden, before the forces of evil get it reduced to a cowpath with a sign saying ‘Dryden that way’.  It would be a nice economic boost for our community, and perhaps spark some other investments.

The TransCanada highway development program is already years behind because the Kenora west project is stalled.  The election is over, so now might be a good time to campaign to have our project go ahead of that stalled one.  Get some progress actually being made on our northern highway network.  Ties in with the notion that this could be a Canada 150 project.

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