In Northern Ontario, highways are not merely transportation, but rather the central pipeline to everything and anything that enters the towns lined along the route. Alter the highway and you stand to alter the very core of the community, economically, resource-wise, and even culturally. This was at the heart of the Highway 11/17 Route Planning Study that was performed to examine linking several small communities between Thunder Bay and the Manitoba border, with a four-lane highway.
The recommended plan included a new alignment for the four-lane highway, interchanges and road connections that provided access to the local communities. The project team had several meetings with these communities to resolve issues and build consensus support for the recommended plan. The Township of Conmee had tax concerns, while the Municipality of Oliver-Paipoonge and Ontario Parks were concerned that a by-pass of Kakabeka Falls would have impacts to local businesses and park visitor attendance.
In the end, by conducting a value engineering workshop that included a Project Risk Register, we were able to garner consensus in order to move forward with the recommended plan.