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Road work in full swing on Highway 11/71

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It's got to get worse before it gets better—that's the motto Emo Reeve Brian Reid is taking with the road construction on Highway 11/71 between Barwick and Devlin.

Motorists travelling west from Fort Frances will encounter stops, slow downs, and large sections of gravel road where asphalt used to be.

And though people may complain about the hassle of driving through the construction area, Reeve Reid said it's a necessary discomfort.

“People wanted them to fix the roads," he said simply. ”The odd windshield is cracked and it's probably rough on tires. What can you do when it's under construction?

“I guess you'll have to deal with that,” he added.

Reeve Reid said the construction didn't become a real hindrance until the last few weeks, avoiding the bulk of the tourist season. But traffic remains heavy, especially with transport trucks hauling logs to the OSB mill in Barwick as well as the paper mill in Fort Frances.

Fort Frances OPP Cst. Steve Maki advised motorists to use caution when driving through the work areas, and not speed through between flagmen.

“People get impatient because they have to wait five minutes," he said. ”If you're cruising along at 90 km/h, the possibility of throwing a rock up and hitting a construction worker or losing control of your vehicle and hitting a construction worker is a real possibility.

“Think safety first,” he stressed.

One thing Emo residents have had to contend with is dust. Although water trucks are being used to help pack the roads and keep levels down, Reeve Reid said keeping dust out of people's houses has been hard.

Many of the locals driving to Fort Frances avoid the construction area entirely by taking the old highway, or “river road,” south of Emo. While it's a bit longer than Highway 11/71, it's a much easier drive at the moment.

But it's a detour motorists won't have to take for much longer. The Ministry of Transportation said the plan is to finish construction this fall or earlier, and paving from Barwick to the junction of Highway 71 already has been done.

“We had a pretty rough piece of road before," Reeve Reid said. "In the end, hopefully we'll get a good one.”

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