Ontario's transportation ministry is launching a study into an alternate emergency access route for Highway 11/17 across the Nipigon River.
The MTO has hired consulting engineering firm WSP Canada Group to lead the study.
In a public notice issued Oct. 25, the ministry said WSP will undertake a Planning, Preliminary Design and Class Environmental Assessment.
A map accompanying the announcement shows that the study area starts at Nipigon and extends northward along the Highway 11 and secondary Highway 585 corridors. Highway 585 runs north from Highway 11/17 west of Lake Helen and roughly parallels Highway 11 which runs east of Lake Helen.
In September, 2016, Transportation Minister Steven Del Duca and Northern Development Minister Michael Gravelle first announced the government's intention to investigate options for an emergency detour route. At the time, they said the study would take about 18 months to complete.
Their announcement came in the wake of the failure of part of the newly constructed Nipigon River Bridge.
The ministers said that while the government was confident the retrofit of the bridge would ensure its safety, "this detour route would provide an alternate option for local residents and businesses in an emergency."
The announcement indicated that the consultants will consult with the public, Indigenous communities, municipalities, property owners and businesses during the study.