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Traffic Lights Coming to Highways 59 and 311

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Construction crews begin installing signal bases Joey Villanueva

After years of heavy traffic, close calls, and dangerous accidents at the corner of Provincial Highways 59 and 311, the province has taken notice. According to Manitoba Infrastructure and Transportation, traffic lights are being installed this year. 

“The work will be completed this fall,” says a statement from MIT. “Crews are working on an unprecedented amount of construction and there have been delays due to weather. The budget for the project is $375,000.”

The signal bases are already in the ground, with construction having begun work at the intersection on September 15.

Other reports indicate that these are to be regular signals, without flashing or turning lights. It’s also unclear whether rumble strips are part of the plan.

After a grisly wreck sent three people to hospital with serious injuries back in February, Niverville resident Barry Piasta organized a rally to bring attention to the problem. “All three TV stations were present,” says Piasta. “They even did a live feed from Niverville.”

Also present was Niverville Mayor Myron Dyck, a number of town councillors, and Provencher Liberal candidate Terry Hayward. The publicity may have done the trick.

“Anytime you have lights at an intersection, of course the purpose of them is provide improved safety to motorists,” Dyck says. “The lights should bring some order as to when people are crossing and what they’re doing.”

“The lights will slow down the traffic on 59,” Piasta agrees. “The speed limit is 100, however the flow of traffic is gen-erally between 110–120. So at least people coming off of 311 will not have to rush when they turn north to beat the oncoming traffic. It’s hard to judge the speed there.” 

Melanie Trepanier knows firsthand how dangerous Highway 59 can be. Earlier this year, her daughter was involved in a collision that could easily have been fatal. Although the accident happened a few miles north of the 311 
intersection, she avoids turn-ing onto the highway from any point.

“Anything to spread the word of how dangerous that highway is,” Trepanier says. “I don’t understand how with every new dwelling, home, and business being built here in the south, there are no plans to twin that highway, like was promised years ago.”

According to Mayor Dyck, plans to twin the highway are in development. “We have been working on this, as the Town of Niverville, and also in conjunction with other municipalities. The village of St. Pierre is spearheading the twinning of the Highway 59 mandate.” 

The affected communities and municipalities are working to get the highway twinned as far as Highway 52. So far no timetables or official announcements have come to light.

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