The federal government has made a commitment to fund up to 50 per cent of the total eligible cost of constructing two additional lanes on Highway 39 between the Bienfait Highway 18 east junction and the city of Estevan.
The word came from Souris-Moose Mountain MP Ed Komarnicki as he spoke to a packed City Hall conference room that included members of the regional Time to Twin committee who began their lobbying efforts over seven years ago.
Estevan MLA Doreen Eagles stated the project is underway with the province having made the decision and confirmed it with a $7 million injection in the March provincial budget.
The federal contribution will be forwarded through the Building Canada Fund. It covers up to half the costs that will involve the twinning of about 10.2 kilometres from the Highway 18 east junction to Estevan and will include intersection improvements and a new underpass to provide grade separation for a coal haul road.
The exact cost of the project won’t be known until June when the construction contract is awarded, said Saskatchewan Highways and Infrastructure officials in attendance.
This is regarded as the start to an overall project that will see the entire stretch of highway from the North Portal international crossing through Estevan and Weyburn and on to Highway 6 south, all the way to Regina.
Noting that both he and Eagles are now on a retirement track, Komarnicki said it will be their predecessors who will be charged with the duties of keeping the commitment to the project and their funding components on track in the years to come.
He added that the New Building Canada Fund has a 10-year time span.
“This is wonderful,” said Lorelei Ireland, a key member of the Time to Twin committee that was singled out by both Komarnicki and Eagles for their “dogged and determined efforts.”
Eagles added the Time to Twin group had been “determined but always respectful and that was greatly appreciated.”
The formal portion of the announcement was chaired by Estevan city councillor Dennis Moore.
Both Komarnicki and Eagles pointed to the international importance of this project that will increase accessibility to Saskatchewan markets while improving safety on one of the province’s busiest highways.