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Construction underway to build access road to Fort William Historical Park

Multi-million-dollar project has been in the works since at least 2009

A secondary access road into Fort William Historical Park (FWHP) is under construction in Thunder Bay, after more than a decade of planning.

Since 2009, park officials have touted the road as key to allowing the facility to host major events, including music festivals, allowing for much easier traffic flow into and out of the site.

Larger crowds could potentially mean larger events, harkening back to Rock the Fort, a popular weekend festival held in 2005 and 2006 that brought the likes of Heart, Mötley Crüe’s Vince Neil, Alannah Myles and Bachman Cummings to Thunder Bay.

“The added capacity from the new road will provide FWHP with the capability to bring larger events to Northern Ontario as it will have a more streamlined traffic flow than in the past,” said Fort general manager Sergio Buonocore, in an email response to questions posed to him by Thunder Bay Television.

“One of the primary benefits of the new FWHP road is the health and safety of our visitors and staff. The addition of the new road will provide two exits to safely and quickly move people off the property in case of an emergency. The new road will also provide FWHP with the ability to offer new alternative programs to the public.”

The new road, which includes an adjacent trail, is located off Broadway Avenue, between Highland Court and King Road, the existing entrance to the park. It will connect with King Road just south of David Thompson drive, running along the north side of the overflow parking area and campground.

An additional exit from the parking area will also be included in the project, which is partially being built by Bruno’s Contracting.

They confirmed their share of the contract is worth about $6 million, though Buonocore said it’s too soon to put a final price tag on the project, which is expected to be completed by the fall of 2021.

Buonocore said the access road has been something he’s been pushing to make happen for more than a decade, but delays were inevitable in a project of this magnitude.

“This has been a multi-agency initiative with many steps and approvals in the process, including public consultations, environmental and ecological assessments, and archeological site reviews. This timeline is consistent for undertakings of this nature,” he said.

Fort William Historical Park remains closed because of COVID-19 restrictions put in place by the province.