The local politicians responsible for securing funding for the highway realignment between Oyama and Winfield met Friday afternoon at an official groundbreaking ceremony for the project. MP Ron Cannan and MLA Norm Letnick were joined by Mayor James Baker at the Winfield end of the project where they gave a few words before turning the soil on the new highway.
When the project is completed drivers can look forward to a much less hazardous route.
“With increased capacity, mobility, and reliability comes a more fundamental improvement: safety. Visitors and commuters alike will appreciate a much faster and safer drive,” said Letnick.
Letnick went on to give credit to his political predecessors, Al Horning and John Weisbeck who first brought the deadly stretch of highway to the attention of the Ministry of Transportation.
Cannan says that the construction will create almost 250 jobs over the lifetime of the project. When it’s completed it will serve as a boon to trade and tourism in the region.
Baker noted that the relocation of the highway is also beneficial to the protection of the Wood Lake fishery.
The cost of the highway is budgeted at $77.7 million. The province is paying for $44.3 million and the Federal government is covering the remainder.
Windley Contracting has the contract to the project with a completion date in the summer of 2013. The realignment will tie back into Highway 97 at Evans Road in Oyama and at Oceola Road in Winfield.
Upon completion the existing highway along Wood Lake will be transferred from the Ministry of Transportation to the District of Lake Country. Preliminary planning discussions around the municipal council table suggest that the road will be turned into a pedestrian-friendly recreation corridor.