Premier visits Arborg, announces PR 326 improvements

Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister announced that Provincial Road 326 will undergo significant improvements this summer as one of many projects province-wide celebrating Manitoba 150 at the Arborg Bifrost Community Centre in Arborg, Man. on May 14. (Submitted photo by Heather Sigurdson)

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After approximately 20 years of lobbying to the province, the Town of Arborg and the RM of Bifrost-Riverton finally received the news they have been waiting for.

While it was quietly announced less than a month ago, premier Brian Pallister visited Arborg on May 14 to inform local residents that a long portion of Provincial Road 326 will undergo improvements starting this summer.

Twenty kilometres of the road from Arborg to 2.4 km east of PR 233 will be re-constructed and re-paved as one of the capital projects funded by the province in celebration of Manitoba’s 150th anniversary. Pallister said at the announcement that not only will the improvements be welcomed by local residents, but also the businesses located north of Arborg.

“To verify and to make absolutely certain, the companies that build out here north of town didn’t build in the wrong place,” he said, receiving applause immediately afterwards.

Bifrost-Riverton reeve Brian Johnson is one of many local residents who is thrilled with the news, telling The Interlake Spectator that many aspects of the local economy depend on the welfare of the roadway.

“It’s something that is so badly needed (for) everything from the manufacturing industry to the agricultural industry. We’re a very diversified economy and it affects everybody,” he said, also crediting Interlake MLA Derek Johnson (no relation) for convincing the province to take on the project.

The reeve also added that PR 326 in its current state — unpaved, restricted and near impassable after wet weather — had a negative impact on vehicles, small and large, on the road itself and on municipal roads in Bifrost-Riverton. He said the improvements to PR 326 will reduce the burden on the roads.

“From a municipal point of view, our municipal roads have to take the brunt of a lot of this traffic and they were not designed for these heavy loads,” Johnson said. “It takes such a cost for the municipality to maintain (these roads). It’s going to help our municipality tremendously that the costs of maintaining these roads will (drop) … We will (then) be able to focus our attention on access roads where heavy traffic is going to be more contained.”

An added benefit, Johnson mentioned, will be the impending growth of companies in the area.

“All of these manufacturing plants will be probably expanding a lot more and we have new manufacturing plants that have come up over the last 10 years,” Johnson added.

Emergency services who use the road, such as the Arborg Bifrost and Riverton Bifrost Fire Departments, will also be more able to attend to emergencies quicker.

“(Right now), it makes it very, very difficult for them to get to their emergency calls, to get their trucks in,” Johnson said.

He expects the majority of the work to be completed by this fall, weather pending.

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