A spokesperson for the Rural Municipality of Hanover says the further twinning of Highways 52 and 59 is still years away.
The Government of Manitoba has included these two twinning projects in its multi-year infrastructure strategy. Highway 52 would include 15.5 kilometres of twinning from Highway 59 to Mitchell, while Highway 59 would include 15.3 kilometres of twinning from Highway 52 to Provincial Road 210.
"On behalf of Hanover we felt it was great news of course to see that in writing," says Hanover Chief Administrative Officer Luc Lahaie.
However, Lahaie says just because those two projects are now in the province's plan, that does not mean that either of the two will happen any time soon. He explains that a functional study will still need to be done for each of those projects. The functional study takes about five years to complete and identifies the path of the twinning and the costs involved and also examines such things as what drains the highway will run over. The study also includes public consultations.
According to Lahaie, the functional study is only expected to commence in 2025, which would mean it would be completed in about 2030. Then, after the study is completed, the report is presented to the public and it becomes a waiting game for the province to send it to the Treasury Board for funding approval.
"In my honest opinion, if we see it within 10 years, that's excellent news and that's exactly what we need," says Lahaie. "Whether this will come in 10 years or 15 or 20 years, that remains to be seen."
Lahaie says as of right now, no funding has been committed for either project and there are also no cost estimates.
"We know it's going to be in the hundreds of millions of dollars," he says. "So this will be one of the biggest projects, probably in southeastern Manitoba's history."
Lahaie says the twinning costs are the province's responsibility, though any temporary turning lanes that need to be installed would likely be cost-shared.
According to Lahaie, his municipality has been lobbying for these projects to happen. In fact, only a couple of weeks ago, the CAO and Reeve for Hanover met with the CAO and Mayor for St. Pierre, where the two councils agreed to push the province for this feasibility study.
"So Hanover, St. Pierre, De Salaberry, Niverville, Tache and Ritchot, we are all always hoping that this would come up soon," he shares. "So we're quite pleased that there's something on the horizon."
Lahaie says it is his assumption that the studies for both twinning projects will probably happen simultaneously. However, he anticipates that construction of Highway 59 will probably happen first, just because of the higher traffic volume.
Lahaie refers to Highway 52 west of Mitchell as a dangerous section of roadway. He explains that because that highway is a correction line, with staggered mile roads, there are twice as many intersections. Recently, the municipality decided to push Manitoba Transportation and Infrastructure to add turning lanes at the Randolph feedmill intersection.
Meanwhile, though Lahaie says there is finally light at the end of the tunnel, there is nothing to say that if a different party comes into power following this fall's provincial election, these twinning projects will still be a priority. However, he notes that this is the most concrete the province has been over the last 20 years, in making these projects happen.