The members of Estevan's Time to Twin committee haven't given up on their effort to get Highways 39 and 6 twinned from North Portal to Regina, but they are holding a meeting with their supporters, and other members of the public, to chart their next steps.
The meeting is tentatively scheduled for Sunday, March 3 at 1 p.m. at the Valley Ridge Estates condo building on Cundall Drive in Estevan. Committee chair Marge Young said the meeting could be pushed back to March 2, as a couple of the committee members won't be able to attend on the 3rd.
She said that people continue to show support for the committee.
"People keep saying 'Don't give up on this fight. It's such a dangerous highway. We need people doing this,'" said Young.
Other people have praised the committee for bringing issues to the forefront, and letting the public know about the challenges facing Highway 39.
Committee member Lorelei Ireland received five safety surveys in the mail on February 26, even though the surveys were first circulated around the community in 2011.
"People feel that it's not just that we want to have the highway twinned, it's that the highway is unsafe," said Young.
Every time Young hears of a fatality on Highway 39, or another highway in the southeast, she mourns for the victims, but she also takes note of the types of vehicles involved. Most fatal collisions involve semis.
Young and other people have wondered why the southeast has unsafe roads, when the region has played such a pivotal role in the province's economic success story. She's also worried about the projected increase in truck traffic associated with the new grain and oil hub near Northgate.
Frustration has grown for the committee, she said. Young was more confident about the prospects for twinning three-and-a-half years ago, when the committee was initially formed, than she is now.
"At that time, I was speaking with a fellow from the Ministry of Highways office … and as soon as we started talking, he said 'Highway 39, in all likelihood, will be the next highway to be twinned,'" Young said.
That employee told her that they would start at North Portal, and work their way to Regina, at a cost of $1 million per kilometre.
But Young's optimism about the future of Highway 39 has slowly dissipated.
She said she has twice asked Estevan MLA Doreen Eagles to set up a meeting with Don McMorris, who was appointed as the minister of highways last May. The committee has yet to meet with McMorris.
She did receive an e-mail from McMorris last September. Young sent an e-mail to McMorris following the tragic death of a worker last year in a construction zone on Highway 39 near Midale.
But Young wasn't pleased with McMorris' response, as he said that the ministry is considering other potential twinning projects, as well as the possibility of a combination of passing lanes and twinning for Highway 39.
"We're just wondering if they're listening to us, because we don't feel like they are," said Young. "We would like to hear from them, and we would like to hear them addressing this issue to the people."
Young suggested that people who want to show support for the committee should phone or e-mail Eagles or McMorris, and voice their concerns.