Shellbrook Highway twinning project announced by province

Donna Harpauer

Local leaders are applauding Tuesday’s announcement that the province will twin part of Highway 3 west of Prince Albert.

In budget announcements, the twinning project was described as a key commitment.

The twinning project will be from Prince Albert city limits to Shell River. Area leaders have been pushing for the project for years. RM of Buckland Reeve Don Fyrk described it as good news.

“It has been a while coming. We have been working on it and we have been asking for it and damned if it didn’t come,” Fyrk said, adding that patience has paid off regarding this project.

“It has been on the wish list forever,” he explained.

Fyrk has written letters to the Ministry of Highways and advocated for the twinning project for many years.

The 2021-22 budget provides $520 million for strategic capital investments to improve safety and efficiency on key highway corridors.

According to the province, design is scheduled to occur in 2021 with the contract being tendered out this fall and completion in fall 2022.

“I’m looking forward to it. They are going to get all of the groundwork done this year on it and probably construction might start next year,” Fyrk said.

Fyrk welcomed the project because it increased the safety of residents and people who travel the highway.

“There are just so many accidents on the Shellbrook highway, but in particular that one stretch. I don’t know what it is, if it’s just impatience or whatever the heck but there is more accidents on that stretch than any other stretch,” he said.

According to the province, this year’s budget provides more than $553 million for transportation capital, including $520 million for: beginning the twinning work on Highway 3 west of Prince Albert and multiple passing-lane projects on Highways 2, 3, 7, 12, 14, 16 and 39.

“I want to thank the MLAs and Premier Scott Moe for really taking the time and digging in and finding the money to do it,” Fyrk said.

The passing lanes projects were announced in February as part of COVID-19 pandemic stimulus funding. 

Passing lane projects are included on Highway 2 north of Prince Albert to Highway 263 and Highway 3 from Prince Albert to Shellbrook.

Amund Otterson, the Mayor of Shellbrook explained that the community was pleased to see the improvements.

“(It is something) we have been looking forward to and the additional safety lanes, passing lanes further west are also much appreciated,” Otterson said.

Investments in the region to intersections and road safety included a pedestrian crosswalk at Birch Hills and a flashing warning light at the intersection of Highways 240 and 55 just north of the Town of Shellbrook. This is the third year of a five-year $100 million commitment. 

In 2021-22, Highways will invest $22 million in road safety projects around the province.

The 2021-22 Budget also invests more than $33 million in transfers related to municipal infrastructure for the Rural Integrated Roads for Growth Program, the Urban Highway Connector Program, and the Community Airport Partnership Program, as well as $530,000 for a new Short-line Rail Infrastructure Program.

“The highways budget contains more than $800 million dollars in highways investments that protect citizens by making our highways safer,” Highways Minister Fred Bradshaw said in a release.

“These investments will build capacity so we are positioned for renewed economic growth once the pandemic is in the rear view mirror,” he added.