Highway 39 revisted
Support for twinning the highway is overwhelming
Article: Kailey Guillemin – Contributor
Over the past 20 years, Highway #39 has claimed the lives of many people from Estevan and the surrounding area. This past year, support has grown tremendously over the issue of getting this highway from North Portal to Regina twinned.
SGI provided the following stats: from 1988 up until 2012, 76 fatalities and over 1000 injuries have occurred on Highway #39. In 2012 alone, the highway claimed two lives and injured 42. Since then, more fatalities have occurred.
Cody Schuler, a born and raised resident of Estevan, expressed his concerns over the highway. “I don’t know why they haven’t twinned it already,” he said, “I’ve almost lost one of my best friends because of it.”
Being from Estevan, Schuler has grown up with many of the victims or families of those who have been killed on this highway.
Schuler says that this is a busy highway and fully supports and encourages the twinning project.
Another Estevan resident expressed her concerns over the condition of this highway. Julissa Moreau, while recently moving to Lethbridge, Alberta for schooling, had a scary close call as she came head on with another vehicle.
Moreau was at a scary, yet exciting time of her life, and if that would have been taken away “because some guy was in a rush, well [she] doesn’t know.” She supports the twinning and says that people need to be reminded of those who have been effected on the highway.
Support has been pouring out of the city of Estevan. Jackie Fitzsimmons created a Facebook event called Heaven’s Flowered Highway and she has been overwhelmed with the support it has received. The page currently has over 5,500 members.
Fitzsimmons created this event as a way to get the government’s attention. Her hope is that the more the highway is covered with flowers and crosses on the sites of accidents, the more serious the Saskatchewan government will take this proposal.
[pullquote]”I don’t know why they haven’t twinned it already… I’ve almost lost one of my best friends because of it.” [/pullquote]
Fitzsimmons believes that the highway is not made for the amount of traffic it sees. She says that “everybody drives that road” to and from Estevan.
A new concern now is that the alternative routes to the city are becoming heavy with traffic. Highway #47 to Stoughton connecting to Highway #33 to Regina is becoming more and more busy as people avoid using #39.
Emails have been sent to the Saskatchewan Government asking for help on getting the highway twinned. However, as expected, the lack of response has not impressed. Fitzsimmons said that the most feedback she has received is that twinning Highway #39 is now a “high priority”. Unfortunately this is a response that has been heard for many years.
Kiflom Weldeab, head of Estevan’s engineering department, said the city has been in contact with the Ministry of Transportation over the dangerous driving on Highway #39. Traffic from North Portal to Regina needs to be controlled and twinning the highway would help.
The Carillon’s attempts to reach a spokesperson in the Department of Highways were unsuccessful.
Support can be shown through Firzsimmons’ Facebook Page or through a petition that can be found on www.change.org.