Twinning work underway on 700-metre stretch of Highway 1 in Manitoba near Ontario border

Crews have started preparing to twin a 700-metre stretch of Highway 1 just west of the Ontario border, a small section of the 16 kilometres that will be widened to improve safety, the province of Manitoba says.

“This is one of the busiest stretches of highways, especially during the summer months, as cottagers and tourists come to take in our beautiful lakes and explore the great outdoors,” Premier Heather Stefanson said at a news conference near Falcon Lake on Friday.

The Manitoba government has promised to widen the Trans-Canada Highway to four lanes between Falcon Lake and the Manitoba-Ontario border, but has prioritized twinning the 700 metres of the highway closest to the border to align with Ontario’s new four-lane highway. 

“This is great news, for us to align our highway up with Ontario this coming year,” Manitoba Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Doyle Piwniuk said at the news conference. 

Tree clearing and other work started last month, and construction on the 700-metre stretch is expected to be done by fall 2024.

The two-lane highway was the site of a deadly crash on July 21, 2019.

Mark Lugli, 54, and his son Jacob Lugli, 17, were headed west on the highway within Whiteshell Provincial Park when a semi-trailer truck swerved to avoid a vehicle that had abruptly stopped, veered into the Luglis’ lane and hit them head-on, RCMP said at the time.

A man with greying brown hair in a yellow tie smiles for the camera in the left photo while a teenage boy with dark brown hair in a grad gown smiles in the right photo.
Mark Lugli, left, and his son Jacob died in a head-on crash while driving west on Highway 1 in Whiteshell Provincial Park in 2019. (Submitted by Peter Lugli)

Stefanson reached out to their family last September to say the twinning was going ahead and the province was preparing to tender contracts.

“It should have been done a long time ago and it hasn’t been, but now is the time to get it done,” Stefanson said Friday.

The province commissioned Tetra Tech Canada to complete a conceptual design study for the full 16-kilometre twinning project, she said.

It will include route options for the four lanes, designs for new or modified interchanges at Highway 301 and Highway 44, options to eliminate three intersections, and access requirements at Hunt and Lyons lakes.

A sign in the shape of the province of Manitoba stands against a clear blue sky. The sign bears the image of a polar bear and says, "Manitoba: Welcome Bienvenue."
A Manitoba sign stands at the border with Ontario in a 2020 file photo. A 700-metre stretch of the Trans-Canada Highway just west of the border will be twinned to match Ontario’s new four-lane highway. (Travis Golby/CBC)

The study is expected to take about two years to complete.

All studies will include consultation with those who live in the area, Stefanson said.

“We want to make sure there’s lots of consultation to ensure we minimize those impacts for the communities and we are absolutely committed to that. Whether it’s Indigenous communities or ranchers — whoever it is that’s going to be impacted — we want to make sure you’re part of this,” she said.