Closure of North Perimeter Highway intersection not sitting well with some residents
A group of West St. Paul residents are blocking the East Holmes road access point along the North Perimeter Highway in protest.
The road was slated to be closed by the province due to safety concerns, but West St. Paul local Maria Rodrigues said the road is used by almost everyone in the area.
“Manitoba Infrastructure is deeming this one of the most dangerous, so now we are being directed to go down Holmes, down a gravel road.”
Rodrigues said the closure has caused Holmes road to see a huge uptick in traffic at peak times of the day.
She believes the access closure has made roads in the area more dangerous.
“Have a safety plan in place before you create more danger. Pave Holmes,” said Rodrigues.
Phase two of the Province’s Perimeter Safety Review was released in the spring. It identified multiple access points along the North Perimeter that needed to be removed or updated.
Manitoba Minister of Infrastructure Ron Schuler said the East Holmes road access point was flagged by traffic engineers as one of the most dangerous.
“I understand that there is inconvenience…we all understand that we’re going to have to change our driving behaviour, but it’s irresponsible to say, ‘because I’m inconvenienced, you should be willing to risk your life.’”
Schuler said last week the East Holmes access blockade stopped construction crews from doing work on the road.
He said these uncontrolled points will all be addressed in the near future.
“We are almost down to 21 uncontrolled intersections, over the next year we hope to reduce that substantially, within three years we will have them hopefully all removed.”
Schuler said during the public engagement phase of the Perimeter Safety Review, more than 80 per cent of the people who responded said the safety changes were necessary.
On Tuesday, the RM of West St. Paul council had a meeting with Minister Schuler to discuss some of the issued being raised by the community.
Mayor Cheryl Christian said the province is still committed to closing all uncontrolled access points, but it will be making improvements to Holmes road.
“Those improvements include four additional inches of gravel, with liquid calcium added in the fall (in the) short term,” said Christian.
"Long term hopefully next year, they’ll be looking at paving…Holmes, and widening Holmes.”
Rodrigues said the community is not against removing all access points.
“But in this area, this access needs to stay.”