Transport Minister David Collenette, and Harinder Takhar, Ontario Minister of Transportation, signed an agreement on Friday to provide joint funding of $336 million for ten highway improvement projects in Ontario. Each government will contribute $168 million. This agreement is part of the $600 million Strategic Highway Infrastructure Program (SHIP) announced by Minister Collenette in April 2001. “This federal contribution of $168 million from the Strategic Highway Infrastructure Program goes a long way to improving the overall condition of Ontario’s highways, with projects in southern, eastern, central and northern Ontario” said Mr. Collenette. “It demonstrates our commitment to enhancing the safety and efficiency of Canada’s National Highway System.” “Ontario is pleased to partner with the federal government on these projects to ease gridlock in central and southwestern Ontario and help the north achieve its economic potential,” said Mr. Takhar. “Improving and expanding Ontario’s highway network is vital for economic growth and prosperity, and we must ensure that goods, services and people can move smoothly and safely on our highways.” “Today’s announcement demonstrates once again the Government of Canada’s commitment to key strategic infrastructure throughout the country, and to working in partnership with the Government of Ontario to deliver much needed transportation improvements,” said Minister of Industry Allan Rock. “Building together a modern infrastructure for Ontario will increase economic opportunities for businesses and the many industries that thrive throughout the province.” “This highway investment is part of our commitment to restore Ontario’s ageing infrastructure,” Minister of Public Infrastructure Renewal David Caplan said. “It is a demonstration of a new era of cooperation, when governments at all levels work together to bring positive change for the people of Ontario.” The ten construction projects announced will be carried out on Highway 401, Highway 69/400 and Highway 17. The projects slated for Highway 401 focus on expanding the existing roadway to increase capacity and enhance safety. Highway 401 between Windsor and Tilbury will be widened to six lanes, improving safety and facilitating trade. Additional Highway 401 projects near Kingston and Belleville will improve one of Canada’s busiest highways. Infrastructure in Northern Ontario will also be improved with the four-laning of Highway 17 east of Sault Ste. Marie and a new alignment of Highway 11/17 west of Thunder Bay. Portions of Highway 69 will be upgraded to provide a four-lane divided highway between northern and southern Ontario, including projects south of Sudbury. With this announcement and through various federal and provincial infrastructure programs in the past year, the governments of Canada and Ontario have announced more than $1.8 billion in joint funding for transportation improvements in Ontario, including highway, public transit and border projects. Funding for SHIP projects is conditional on the results of required environmental approvals. Federal funding for the projects is built into the existing federal financial framework.