Tbnewswatch Local News
2014-03-07 at 3:22PM

Gravelle, Ministry of Transportation disagree on Expressway warning lights

By Jamie Smith, tbnewswatch.com

Michael Gravelle thinks advance warning lights on the Thunder Bay Expressway will make it safer, but the Ministry of Transportation doesn't agree.

Installing a warning system near the intersection of Balsam Street and the expressway was one of the first successes Gravelle had as a rookie MPP in 1995.

A number of fatal collisions convinced the then-Harris government to warn travelers that they'd soon be at the first set of traffic lights in nearly 700 kilometres if driving from Sault Ste. Marie.

But in nearly 20 years since, Gravelle hasn't been able to convince the ministry that the same system is needed for that stretch of road's other five sets of lights.

Gravelle's been told in countless conversations with the ministry over the years that underground sensors near the intersections can sense the amount of traffic on the road and change the lights as needed.

Balsam's warning system, viewed as a success, is only needed to warn drivers that they're entering an area that has a series of lights.

"From that point on they argue that people know there are other lights coming up therefore it doesn't necessitate warning lights. I don't agree," Gravelle said.

Gravelle is planning to bring the issue up again when he meets with transportation minister Glenn Murray.

"I'll keep up the fight," he said.

He was hoping that the system would be put in place during a recent $20 million upgrade to the expressway but that didn't happen. Gravelle said he is looking forward to a study, expected next year, that would judge whether installing a median and off-ramps, a true four-lane highway as Gravelle calls it, is necessary.

But Gravelle is proud of the province's record of $5 billion spent on Northern highways over the past decade, including the four-laning of Hwy 11/17 between Thunder Bay and Nipigon.

"Theres is a continual need for us to make it better and safer," he said.



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