The Trans-Canada Highway is the latest road Manitoba's NDP government plans to improve using money from last year's one per cent increase in the provincial sales tax.
Infrastructure and Transportation Minister Steve Ashton said the province, with matching funds from Ottawa, expects to spend $213 million improving the Trans-Canada west of Winnipeg to the Saskatchewan boundary.
Ashton said Monday the work aims to bring the national highway up to U.S. interstate highway standards and includes fully paved shoulders, rumble strips, resurfacing, intersection improvements and four new bridges.
He said the project is the most extensive since the Trans-Canada was built in the 1950s and 1960s.
Ashton said the province is also in talks with Ontario about further upgrades to the Trans-Canada east of Falcon Lake to the provincial boundary.
Manitoba has already said it will spend $110 million on the Trans-Canada east from Winnipeg to Ontario and rename it in memory of cancer-fighting icon Terry Fox.
"Our goal, sooner rather than later if we can make progress in Ontario, is to have the Trans-Canada from the Ontario border to Saskatchewan four-laned and fully upgraded," Ashton said.
The Trans-Canada improvements described Monday are the latest in about $1-billion worth of spending on highways, including Highway 75 to the U.S. border, the Perimeter Highway and Highway 6 to Thompson, as the NDP tries to justify the PST increase to eight per cent from seven.
"Everybody I've talked to said whatever their view was on the particular decision we made last year, they said make sure you invest it in core infrastructure, and there is nothing more core than investing in Highway 1."
He said when that job is done, officials will determine whether it's safe to raise the speed limit to 110 km/h from 100 km/h.
Spokesmen for CAA Manitoba and the Manitoba Trucking Association welcomed news of the improvements.
Trucking association general manager Terry Shaw said the upgrades will allow larger trucks, such as long-combination vehicles (a semi pulling two full-size trailers), to operate more safely.
"It's investments like these that allow us to find those efficiencies and operate at maximum capacity," he said.
CAA Manitoba vice-president Tom Scott said the auto club's 200,000 members would welcome roadways and speeds more consistent with other jurisdictions.
The highway upgrades, expected to begin this summer, include:
-- 14.8 kilometres of paving on the westbound lanes, including paving shoulders and adding rumble strips, from east of the east junction of PTH 1A to PTH 13;
-- Seven km of paving of the eastbound lanes, including shoulders, from 1.4 km west of PTH 16 to 7.1 km east of PTH 16;
-- 27.4 km of microsurfacing from PR 351 to PTH 34 (microsurfacing is a pavement-preservation technique using a thin asphalt mixture applied to an existing paved surface);
-- Five km of microsurfacing of the eastbound lanes from the east junction of PTH 10 to five km east of the east junction with PTH 10;
-- 6.2 km of microsurfacing of the eastbound lanes from 0.1 km west of PR 270 to the west junction of PTH 10;
-- 16.1 km of high-performance chip seals of the eastbound lanes from 13.2 km east of PTH 41 to PTH 83, with five two-km test sites (chip seals are a pavement-preservation treatment where oil and crushed gravel are applied to an existing pavement);
-- 21.9 km of paving of the westbound lanes from 1.6 km west of the east junction of PR 254 to PR 678 (King Street in Virden).