Saskatchewan Minister of Highways and Infrastructure Nancy Heppner was given a first hand look of the state of the highways in the Lloydminster area last week.
Heppner, who was touring the area with local MLA Tim McMillan, said that the Lloydminster MLA asked her to visit Lloyd to see the highways first hand.
“Obviously, when an MLA asks a minister to come look at something, there are usually some constituents who have come forward about those roads,” she said.
“(McMillan) has expressed some concerns from constituents about safety and the state of the highways in the area.”
Heppner, who recently became minister of Highways in the spring cabinet shuffle, said that she has made it her job to get out and visit the highways in the area.
“I think it’s good, as a new minister, to be out in communities and check out the roads that I’m responsible for.”
During her visit to the area, Heppner said that she was shown first hand the state of one of the major highways that is causing concern for constituents in the Lloydminster area.
“It’s good to have that information first hand, when I go back to Regina to make decisions about repairs and funding,” she said.
McMillan said that by touring with Heppner, and showing her Highway 21, he was able to show the concerns that he has heard from constituents.
“We have several thousand kilometres of thin membrane roads, like Highway 21, and this one gets a lot of wear during the summer, and gets in pretty rough shape,” he said.
McMillan said that because Highway 21, runs from Paradise Hill to Pierceland, he has heard about this issues along the highway a lot from area residents and tourists.
“I have been hearing about the road, and also I have been travelling it. And it is not something unique compared to other ridings in the province, but it is important to this riding,” he said.
During the tour of the Highway, McMillan said that he had seen some improvements to the highway since he had last seen the highway.
“There was serious patching that was required the last time I was in the area, and it was done when the minister and I had toured the area,” he said.
“With the thin membrane roads, they get beat up a lot and they need to be patched. The minister and I were both pleased to see a lot of the patching done in the last week.”
Heppner said now that she has seen the highway first hand, she will now go back to Regina and prioritize construction for the whole province.
“Things have to be prioritized. There are things like traffic counts and safety issues and economic issues that come into play and development of the area,” she said. “We don’t have unlimited funding, there are lot of roads in this province that need funding and need attention.”
There are over 400,000 TMS roads in the province, according to Heppner.
“The roads were not built back in the day to handle truck travel and the increased private vehicle travel we have seen,” she said.
Heppner said that she also has to look at the new capital builds that the province has on its agenda to look at before moving forward.
“The challenges are two fold. On one side there is maintenance and on the other side it’s about being ready and having the next generation of infrastructure,” she said.
“These projects are not small price tags, so there is a balance that we need to achieve,” she said.
“We have to be ready for growth, but also need to make sure that we have safe roads as well.”