“The ministry has taken the counties’ study very seriously,” stated a ministry response to a Tribune Express email query. “After further review, we have concluded that the safest and most cost-efficient design is the ministry’s existing proposed T-intersection.”
The Ministry of Transportation (MoT) reconst on- and off-ramp connection between County Road 17 and Highway 34 with a traffic-controlled T-intersections. The United Counties of Prescott-Russell (UCPR), the Town of Hawkesbury, and Champlain Township have all protested the proposal, arguing that it will create future traffic hazard problems.
One of the main concerns of the three local governments is that the redesign will not allow enough turning room for tractor-trailer transports or enough time through the traffic-control system for these large vehicles to negotiate a turn at the intersection either on or off the county road.
“The ministry understands the United Counties of Prescott-Russell’s concerns,” stated the ministry email. “Ministry staff have met with council members and staff from the UCPR several times over the past year to discuss and listen to their concerns and feedback, and are aware that the UCPR hired their own consultant to review the ministry’s proposed design.”
The MoT noted in its email that the overpass was built in 1955 when the county road was part of the original TransCanada Highway network and it was designed with free flow on- and off-ramps and “wide enough to accommodate four lanes of traffic, if needed, but this was never warranted.” The ministry stated that the overpass is now at the end of its “useful service life” and needs replacing.
The MoT replacement redesign calls for “narrower cross sections” than the existing overpass has because future traffic volumes won’t be as great as the original projections for the overpass. The speeds for turning on and off of the overpass will also be reduced to 40 kilometres an hour from the present 50 kph.
“T-intersections are common configurations across the province at highway off-ramps to county roads,” stated the ministry email. “The intersections are designed to accommodate the type of commercial vehicle traffic that uses the ramps and County Road 17.”
The MoT claims that its proposed overpass redesign has the least impact on the natural environment, utilities, neighbouring property, and the adjacent CN Rail line. The design will also “minimize replacement costs and the number of stages required to complete the work.” The construction timetable has not been determined yet.
The Transportation Environmental Study Report (TESR) on the Hawkesbury overpass becomes available for 30-day public review and comment from October 28 to November 28 through the ministry website at www.CR17bridges.com.