Over 2900 Manitobans have signed #SaferHighway6’s online petition strongly urging the provincial government make major improvements to increase safety and reduce accidents and deaths on the major highway that serves the north and links the region to southern Manitoba.
#SaferHighway6 wants the Province to fund and implement a three-year plan to improve Highway 6 from Winnipeg to Thompson. The group identifies an urgent need for passing lanes every 50 kilometres, rumble strips at key locations, faster response times for major highway accidents, shoulders wide enough for drivers to park off the road safely, and lay-bys for rest stops. More so, to follow Sweden’s award winning 2+1 lane approach that has reduced deaths by 50-80% and can be used in Manitoba.
The citizen group launched the petition in response to the recent, yet avoidable, car accident and death of Thompson MLA Danielle Adams. Adams was driving to Winnipeg when she collided head-on with a semi-trailer. Poor road conditions played a role in the accident.
Thompson community leader and one of the petition organizers, Volker Beckmann, says, “Danielle Adam’s death was a terrible tragedy; a loss that never should have happened. It shocked everyone regardless of their political bent.” Brenda Redman, another group leader, added that Highway 6 is one of the most dangerous highways in the province, especially in winter.
Beckmann points out that Adams is just one of the many northerners who have died along the remote 750 km stretch of highway. “I personally know of over twenty-five people who have been in accidents from rollovers who walked away, to other friends who ended up with a broken neck, paralyzed, or died. The personal, social, health, and economic costs are unacceptable. The death of this young MLA has now brought the issue to top of mind.”
Highway 6 is a well-travelled two-lane corridor heavily used by semi-trailers and double length trailers. At the intersection of its southern entrance with the perimeter highway, “long-load” signs alert northbound drivers to the presence of double-length trailers, advising them to use passing lanes, and to pass with extra care. The passing lanes end twenty-four kilometers north of the perimeter at Warren, over 700 km from the end of the paved corridor in Thompson.
The group observes that passing a ninety-foot semi in the summer on good pavement can be a stressful occurrence. In winter, when a driver encounters an oncoming semi, or is forced to stay behind or pass one that is churning up billowing snow, visibility is reduced to near zero.
With longer dark hours in winter, driving becomes even more dangerous and a white-knuckle experience. Beckmann states, “The Province can show their support for Northern Manitoba and address the problems by developing wide, safe shoulders, rest stops, better snow clearing, and faster accident response times, and 2+1 passing lanes. Improvements must start this year.”
The petition is found at www.change.org OR https://chng.it/mdTQ9k9V