Marc Clermont, public works director for the United Counties of Prescott-Russell (UCPR), presented a verbal report to the UCPR public works committee, during its November 13 session, on the latest discussions between his department and the Ministry of Transportation about proposed design changes to the Hawkesbury Creek Bridge.
The bridge serves as an overpass for County Road 17 traffic. It spans Highway 34 below, which connects Champlain Township with the Town of Hawkesbury. Ministry plans for future upgrading of the bridge include replacing the westbound on-ramp, which takes traffic from Highway 34 to County Road 17, with a standard traffic-light-controlled intersection.
Both the UCPR and the Town of Hawkesbury oppose the idea and have lobbied the ministry to maintain the existing on-ramp system. They argue it is better for handling commercial truck traffic and that a standard traffic-light intersection design would create potential traffic accident hazards, especially during the winter season.
Clermont told the public works committee that during the latest meeting with ministry officials, he stated that the UCPR has hired a consultant to do a peer review of the ministry’s bridge design change proposal. Clermont noted that the ministry officials stated that “the newly proposed stop at the intersection of the westbound on-ramp is their preferred solution and, unless the counties can show otherwise, that this is going to be the recommended solution for the on/off ramp.”
Clermont’s department will present its peer review report to the ministry as soon as it is completed. Clermont expects to have another meeting with ministry staff to go over the comments and recommendations in the peer review.
Meanwhile an environmental study report on the Hawkesbury Creek Bridge revamp should be finished in January 2020. That study is subject to a 30-day review period when the municipality, the UCPR, and the general public can comment or submit objections to the environmental report’s recommendations.