Posted on Wednesday March 13, 2019 at 2:14 p.m.
Mayors oppose Hawkesbury bridge replacement plan
Ontario’s transportation ministry is running into opposition from two mayors over a rehabilitation plan for the Hawkesbury overpass connection for County Road 17 and Highway 34.
Mayors Paula Assaly of Hawkesbury and Normand Riopel of Champlain Township oppose the ministry’s proposal for traffic safety reasons. They warned ministry staff and officials for the consultant firm in charge of the project that they will take the matter straight to the regional head office if changes are not made.
“We need to talk some more,” Mayor Assaly said. “Otherwise we’re going to Kingston.”
“I will oppose this project,” said Mayor Riopel. “It’s a safety issue.”
Both Assaly and Riopel expressed concerns following a presentation Wednesday to the United Counties of Prescott-Russell (UCPR) council on the Hawkesbury Bridge Replacement project.
The Hawkesbury Bridge and Highway 34 Overpass for the CNR line are aging and need replacing. The new structure would have a 75-year lifespan but the plan for the highway connections would see the present curving east and west on-ramps from Highway 34 to County Road 17 become T-intersections at the bridge.
Both mayors expressed fear that as Hawkesbury continued to grow and the amount of traffic increased on County Road 17, those T-intersections would become serious traffic hazards for both regular passenger vehicles and heavy tractor-trailer transports.
“Hawkesbury is not ready to accept the T-intersections,” said Mayor Assaly. “This is not safe. The ramps we have now are good. At the end of the day, in 70 years, we’re going to end up with problems. There’s going to be accidents there.”
Both Riopel and Assaly argued that planners should rework their design to keep both the regular on- and off-ramps for the bridge. UCPR Warden Robert Kirby suggested that the ministry and consultant firm have further discussion meetings with the two municipalities on the issue.
“See if a compromise can be achieved,” Kirby said.