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The province of Manitoba says it's taking immediate steps to make the South Perimeter Highway safer. 

Some of the main tweaks, according to a provincial news release, include:

  • eliminating or making upgrades to 24 median openings and accesses;
  • opening a roundabout at Provincial Trunk Highways 2 and 3;
  • making improvements to the intersection of PTH 3 with the Perimeter near Oak Bluff;
  • making service road improvements at PTH 3, the Perimeter and Oakland Rd.;
  • constructing a service road from Oakland Rd. to the Wilkes Ave. interchange;
  • improving service roads to more safely connect Brady Rd. to the South Perimeter Highway;
  • constructing a service road and railway crossing to connect Aimes Rd. and Melnick Rd.; and 
  • constructing left turn lanes at Symington Rd.  

Infrastructure Minister Ron Schuler told reporters today the province still needs to consult with Rural Municipalities, emergency responders, farmers and businesses at a number of intersections and access points in the southwest region. 

"There's a lot of agriculture land inside the Perimeter and we want to be careful to balance the safety of people driving on the highway with farmers who need the right to access their land and make a living," Schuler said. "We think we have a good solution where we would turn some of those intersections into an emergency turn-around or allow farm equipment to cross over the Perimeter by permit."

"We don't want to harm anybody's ability to earn a living."

Schuler says the intersection between PTH 3 and the Perimeter - which services an industrial park - is a problem area where there have been a lot of accidents. The issue, according to Schuler, is that trucks have to cross multiple lanes to head north, which can block traffic and cause traffic jams and accidents on a fast moving highway. 

He says revamping the service road will now force trucks to travel to Wilkes and access the Perimeter from there. He believe this, coupled with the roundabout nearby, will smooth out traffic in the Oak Bluff area and reduce collisions.  

"That really was the most troubling intersection we had," Schuler said. "The numbers just aren't very good there and we had an incredibly serious accident there a number of months ago. We spent a lot of time there during our tour and the Manitoba Trucking Association has indicated that they are fine with driving up to Wilkes and accessing the Perimeter from there." 

As far as the roundabout goes, Schuler says people in the Oak Bluff area have been given literature to help them navigate it if they need the assistance. He says like a lot of roundabouts it will take some time to get used to, but he has faith people will pick up on it. 

"Most drivers know how to handle them," he said. "This is the first one on a major highway so it takes on a little more interest. We'll monitor it, but we think Manitobans will adapt to this." 

This plan is expected to take up to three years as the province waits for the conclusion of a functional study, which will give them more long term solutions. 

The entire safety strategy will cost approximately $19 million.