County Road 83 to get paved shoulders from Morrison Line to Highway 4

HURON COUNTY – County Road 83 will get a paved shoulder from Morrison Line to Highway 4 in an effort to decrease the risk to cyclists who use that portion of the road to get to and from work.

At Huron County council’s meeting on Sept. 21, councillors requested a staff report to look at options for creating a safer space for cyclists.

The report said, “The primary concern raised is that migrant workers leaving the greenhouse east of Morrison Line on County Road 83 are riding their bicycles back to Exeter on the granular shoulders and may sometimes be riding the painted white line where it is paved.”

Huron County Public Works investigated constructing paved shoulders in response to that request and came up with two options, a fully paved shoulder with a painted buffer or a multi-use trail.

Councillors discussed the width of the paved shoulders and the winter maintenance.

Steve Lund, director of operations for public works, indicated that the proposed width would be 1.5 metres, but he is open to looking at 2.5 metres for safety's sake after Coun. Bernie Bailey brought up that not all cyclists follow the rules of the road, quite often driving on or to the left of the white line.

“The other thing I’d like to point out in this report, is County Road 83 is one of our busiest highways; traffic continues to grow,” Lund said. “And as long as we stay under the 10,000 (annual average daily traffic) AADT, the paved shoulder is a suitable solution. However, once we go over that, the (Ontario Traffic Manual) OTM book does recommend a separate cycling facility. But we're nowhere near that yet."

“This being a very busy highway, we get a lot of commercial traffic, a lot of trucks, and a lot of wind loads. So, in this particular case, 2.5 (metres) is a good solution.”

Coun. Jim Dietrich expressed his concerns about the challenge of keeping the shoulders cleared of snow in the winter, and Coun. Bernie MacLellan wondered about the cost.

Coun. George Finch said, “This is a year-round challenge. We do have to support migrant workers; we are going to be getting more and more of them throughout the next decade or more. So that area is going to likely grow with more migrant workers. And if we have a fatality there, I think we own that. We need to do what we can now to make sure that doesn't happen.”

County council received the report for information purposes and added a new motion that the cost estimate for option two, which is the paved shoulder for County Road 83 from Morrison Line to Highway 4, be included in the 2023 draft budget for consideration.

Cory Bilyea, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Wingham Advance Times