Members of the Iskatewizaagegan No.39 Independent First Nation, Ministry of Transportation Ontario along with Kenora Rainy River MPP Greg Rickford met yesterday to sign the contract that will officially start the road improvements to Highway 673 called "the Project".

“We've signed a series of official documents that live up to a promise, that's been a long time in the making. It's a credit to the leadership here [Shoal Lake No. 39] and the work that my office has been doing in cooperation with Minister Mulroney to make this road a safe place for people to travel in and out of,” said Rickford

“We want to straighten out some of the more serious bends and surfacing problems for them and, create an epicenter of activity as we pivot in the not too distant future for construction at the twinning,” added Rickford.

Highway 673 is the lifeline to the Shoal Lake community and over years past there have been many accidents due to unforgiving road structure. This was a big day for the residents of Shoal Lake No. 39.

“It means to the community that we can get things done if we work together with our partners. We want to build a better community for members to live in today and into the future, and in order to do that, we need to invest in basic infrastructure like Highway 673, we need to invest in the community,” says Fred Green, Band Councilor of Iskatewizaagegan No.39 Independent First Nation

Shoal Lake

The construction entails straightening a number of sharp hairpin turns and two back-to-back turns. The project will consist of three phases fixing two turns in each phase. A project this size does consist of a lot of work and preliminary aspects before construction can begin.

“It's a significant undertaking, it's not necessarily just bulldozing your way through a piece of land. We have to test to see what the existing ground conditions are, so we've already gone out and done some boreholes to see what's there,” noted Gary Weiss Manager of Construction for MTO Northwest Region on the procedure of the priority curve revisions.

“In this area, there is a lot of rock, so we'll be doing a lot of rock blasting to get to the appropriate grade and straighten out those corners, which is why they are so sharp because we do have a lot of rock in this area and as you know, we also love swamps so a lot of times we take that rock and put in the swamps so it balances out,” added Weiss

The project will officially start next week as workers will begin clearing the land to start the straightening process of the project. In total, the project will take around 3 years and a total of $13 million has been put towards this project.

The Nation wishes to thank MTO and its representatives for their hard work and dedication towards the Project and the signing of this contract and provision of funding to complete. The Nation also wishes to thank the Honourable Greg Rickford, the MPP for the Kenora-Rainy River, for his work in moving the Project along and building relationships amongst the various Ministries on behalf of the Nation. The Nation looks forward to continued good relations with MTO and Minister Rickford as we jointly work together to make the twinning of the Trans-Canada Highway a reality.