Manitoba Premier Heather Stefanson has committed to twin Highway 1 between Falcon Lake and the Manitoba/Ontario border in response to a Dryden family’s call to action.
Earlier this month, Peter Lugli, the brother of Dryden’s Mark Lugli and uncle of Jacob Lugli, who both passed away in a tragic accident in the Falcon Lake area three years ago, sent an open letter to the Premier calling for the highway to be twinned.
The Lugli’s say they are hoping to prevent any more tragedies along that 17-kilometer section of single-lane highway, noting over 5,000 northwestern Ontario residents drive across it every day.
Premier Stefanson had previously extended her sincere condolences to the family and promised she and Manitoba’s Minister of Infrastructure, Doyle Piwniuk, would review the situation and look for improvements.
Now, Stefanson has sent a letter to the Lugli family confirming that the Manitoba government will twin Highway 1 beginning 5 kilometres west of Provincial Road 301 in the Falcon Lake area to the Ontario border.
“The family is elated with the Premier’s response,” said Peter Lugli after the family received the letter.
“Our family’s objective from the very beginning was to raise awareness of the section of road here so the tragic circumstances that Mark and Jacob’s passing could at least result in some goodness. We’re elated with the decision the Premier has made to commit the government to make this happen."
Stefanson says the first phase of the project will include tendering and awarding contracts to engineers for the conceptual and functional design studies, which will need to take place before environmental assessment work. A timeline for the project is expected to be announced this fall.
“Twinning the Highway will significantly improve safety for motorists and our government is committed to getting the job done,” said Stefanson, in her letter. “Our government is also committed to engaging with stakeholders early and throughout the duration for the project, including Indigenous rights holders in the region.”
The Manitoba government notes that they have made safety improvements to that section of the highway in the past such as brush trimming and ‘no stopping’ signs, although, as the Lugli family notes, much of the work was already completed when the tragic accident took place.
On July 21, 2019, Mark Lugli, the 54-year-old principal of St. Joseph's School and his 17-year-old son Jacob were on their way to Selkirk for a golf tournament when a semi swerved into their lane to avoid another vehicle that had stopped and was turning left, killing the two instantly.
“If we can prevent one accident from happening, this will have been all worth it,” adds Peter. “We can’t say enough about the Premier’s commitment to this. We’re thrilled. We’re hopeful that motorists in northwestern Ontario, Manitoba and elsewhere, will be able to go on their journeys a little more safely in the years to come.”
In Ontario, Northern Development Minister and Kenora-Rainy River MPP, Greg Rickford, has estimated that their twinning project to the Manitoba border could wrap up by 2025.
Phase one of work between the border and the junction of Highway 673 and the TransCanada began in March of 2022. The second phase is set for an 8.5 km stretch between Highway 673 and Rush Bay Road, with the third phase set for 25 km between Rush Bay Road and Highway 17A.