Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Bumps in the Highway #20 Reconstruction

So, if you’ve been travelling Highway #20 lately, you know that it’s in rough shape. When will it be fixed, you ask?

Well, this has been a topic of discussion during the last few Pelham Council meetings. Since the Region owns and maintains the former Provincial highway, I too have been trying to get answers during recent Regional committee meetings.

You see, the work on the road will actually be considerable. Not only does the road need to be reconstructed because of wear and tear by the 20,000 vehicles that travel it daily, it also needs realignment and widening in some places. The realignment will help at intersections like Cataract Road (in Thorold) to make them safer; they are also planning to install a traffic light at that intersection.

This work has been budgeted for a few years. During the fall of 2007, the Region had hoped to start Phase One – from Rice Road to Cataract Road – in spring 2008. Obviously that didn’t happen.

This past spring, we heard they were hoping to start in the fall.

Then, on September 18th Pelham staff were notified that construction would not begin until next spring. That would delay Phase Two – from Cataract Road to Highway 406 to the fall of 2009 at the earliest. The final piece – Phase Three from Station Street to Rice Road – wouldn’t be started until 2010.

As soon at I heard the news, I sent a letter to the Regional Chair, demanding action.

In addition to outlining safety concerns and the terrible state of the road, I also informed him that several Regional Road #20 businesses are holding up improvements in landscaping or building renovations until after the reconstruction. I also let him know that the Town is delaying its significant upgrades and improvements to Port Robinson Road and Station Street because it would be foolish to start before (or during) the reconstruction of the Regional Road.

Chair Partington responded immediately.

The hold-up? Difficulties in “acquiring several parcels of land which are required before actual construction can commence.” The Region has been successful in attaining settlements with most owners, however “a couple of property negotiations have been particularly frustrating and time consuming.” I understand that the Region may have to resort to expropriation to acquire the last few properties.

Chair Partington assured me that the Region will do “everything it can to expedite the completion of these critical road improvements.”

Rest assured that I will keep pressuring the Region for timely action along this bumpy road.