Warden Pierre Leroux described it as “a last ditch effort” but got the unanimous approval of the other seven mayors on the United Counties of Prescott-Russell council (UCPR) for another attempt to get the Ministry of Transportation (MoT) to alter its plans for redesigning the Hawkesbury overpass connection between Highway 34 and County Road 17.
Council confirmed during its November 25 session to have a delegation meet with ministry officials on the issue during next month’s virtual annual meeting of the Rural Ontario Municipal Association (ROMA). The decision followed review of the MoT’s response to the last letter UCPR council sent on the subject.
Steven McInnis, MoT director from the design and engineering department, stated in the letter that the ministry “recognizes the concerns raised” about redesign plans for the overpass but “maintains its position on the preferred alternative.”
Overpass redesign plan
The ministry’s redesign plan calls for replacing the existing “flow-through” ramps for the westbound lane of County Road 17 at the eastern end of the overpass. These ramps allow westbound traffic on the county road access to Highway 34 and allow southbound traffic on the highway access to County Road 17.
The ministry proposes replacing the flow ramps with a standard T-intersection connection between the county road’s westbound lane and Highway 34 with a stop sign for traffic control.
“The intention was always to have a stop sign,” said Jérémie Bouchard, UCPR acting public works director, noting that a traffic light setup was never part of the ministry’s preferred redesign plan.
Both UCPR council and municipal councils for Hawkesbury and Champlain Township have expressed concern that the ministry’s redesign plan will increase the risk of traffic accidents at the overpass.
McInnis stated that his department has reviewed the amount of traffic at the site and done projections on future traffic numbers. The ministry’s conclusion is that an actual traffic light would not be needed at the proposed T-intersection until 2065.