The first phase of moving Talbot Trail away from the coastal erosion on Lake Erie has begun.
Municipal council voted to endorse the project’s first phase by reopening Talbot Trail from Coatsworth Road to Stevenson Road.
The first phase will see the highway be rerouted north along Coatsworth Road to the Second Concession Line before turning east to Stevenson Road and south to Talbot Trail. The next part of the plan would involve moving Talbot Trail north, relocating it from Ellerbeck Road to Coatsworth Road along the Second Concession Line.
According to officials, the recommended plan is a long-term vision that will be phased in over the course of as many as five decades to maintain arterial access along the shoreline.
“Phase 1B will complete the western terminus section of the recommended plan and will entail relocating Talbot Trail northerly from Ellerbeck Road to Coatsworth Road along 2nd Concession Line,” read a report to council. “Local access roads will be constructed when Talbot Trail no longer provides safe access to properties,” said President of BT Engineering Steve Taylor.
The road, which has been closed since July 2019, is a key connection to many communities and provincial parks, including Rondeau, Wheatley, Blenheim, and Point Pelee
To help minimize field partitioning and maintain normal farm practices, the new route will follow hedgerows and lot lines to maintain current field patterns where feasible.
“Existing buildings and barns have been avoided. Impacts to significant woodlots have been minimized where possible and alternate areas for naturalization will be explored,” read the report that went before council.
The environmental assessment for the roadway – part of the presentation at last week’s virtual council meeting – is now subject to a 60-day public review period.
“Having an (environmental assessment) complete and in place gives you a shovel-ready project that you can apply for funding if there are future funding programs in place in decades to come for portions of this project that are likely to be implemented in stages,” Steve Taylor, a consultant with BT Engineering, told councillors.
The proposed roadway will have a 36-metre right-of-way with a multi-use trail that will be on the south side of the new Talbot Trail.
There were no dollar figures attached to the highway relocation at this time. However, specific funding requirements for each phase will be determined during detailed design and brought forward in future recommendations.
South Kent Councillor Clare Latimer said there is no funding, but council is hopeful government agencies, both federal and provincial, are listening about the shoreline challenges.
According to a staff report, the depth of coastal erosion from 1955 to date in the area of the current road closure has been 84 metres.
In 2010, the municipality built a $200,000 bypass in the same area after nearby bank erosion caused a major crack in the road. Erosion has led to numerous road closures and repairs in Chatham-Kent with rising high water levels.
“These recommendations will allow municipal infrastructure to be protected beyond the effects of coastal erosion for the 100-year planning horizon, including climate change,” the report read.
Bird Bouchard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Ridgetown Independent News