Eganville – There is some unhappiness and frustration around the table at Bonnechere Valley council about some county roadwork projects and the lack of consultation with the township as well as the realization the long-awaited completion of Highway 512 will likely not take place this year.
“I would hazard to say it is the worst road in the County of Renfrew,” Mayor Jennifer Murphy said of the highway last Tuesday during a committee meeting of council.
The mayor said it appears 512 will not be done this year and if it is possibly done it would not be until the fall. The issue is the county has been unable to purchase land needed to improve four corners on the road. The property owners in question are refusing to sell to the County of Renfrew, she explained. The planned 512 reconstruction was slated as a $3 million project and is a major part of the county’s construction plan this year.
“I’m very disappointed these four property owners are stalling such an important project,” she said.
This is a dangerous stretch of road, the mayor said. She questioned what response council wants her to take back to the County of Renfrew.
“Do we want the county to reduce the speed limit?” she asked.
Councillor Tim Schison said he drives a tractor trailer on the stretch quite a bit.
“I do see a lot of fast vehicles on it,” he said. “It is the worst road I drive on in the county.”
He questioned if a speed sign will slow people down and said he is not sure. Coun. Schison stressed the road needs to be fixed.
“It is devastating it is not getting fixed,” he said.
When he drives with a full load, he must go below 50 kph because of the road conditions, but other drivers are still speeding.
“When I am down to 50, I have a parade behind me,” he said, adding there are easily four or five vehicles being held up.
Speed bumps would be ineffective and many of the bumps and potholes on 512 are not slowing people down now, he said.
Mayor Murphy said another idea would be rough road signs.
Fourth Chute Road Bridge
Even though the Fourth Chute Road Bridge is not in BV, Mayor Murphy said she was concerned about the impact the closure of the bridge for rehabilitation would have on local ratepayers, people travelling to BV, first responders and tourists. She pointed out the bridge is slated to be closed from June 28 to October 31 and would necessitate a 15.4-kilometre detour.
(The actual difference to go to Douglas via a Hyndford detour is less than 2 kms.)
The mayor said even though she is not on the County Operations Committee, she watched the meeting to see the issue discussed. When the county was asked if the bridge work could be staggered the response was it would be cost prohibitive.
“I have expressed my displeasure,” she said. “Once again, I feel that they were not taking into consideration the needs of ratepayers of Bonnechere Valley, North Algona Wilberforce and Admaston/Bromley.”
Unfortunately, when she is at county council on June 30 the bridge closure will have begun two days earlier, she said.
“We need more consultation with the County of Renfrew,” she said.
Councillor Brent Patrick said the township has experience with bridge work, but fortunately the bridge work in Eganville had a small detour to the next bridge about 800 metres away.
Councillor Tim Schison, who lives on Fourth Chute Road, said from his place it would only be a one-kilometre detour to Douglas if motorists go via Hyndford.
“That can be done,” he said.
Acknowledging minutes count with first responders, he maintained the detour is small at about one kilometre.
“It is not outrageous,” he said.
Mayor Murphy said she was concerned about the people on the other side of the bridge and the timeline being right in the tourist season.
Councillor Jack Roesner said he felt this was very similar to how the county handled the Hurd’s Creek Culvert rehabilitation on Silver Lake Road.
“It is the same thing,” he said. “They did not consult.”
Council agreed to send a letter to the county expressing their displeasure. She told the Leader afterwards construction is not slated to begin until mid-July, so she will be addressing the issue at county council on Wednesday, June 30.
The Fourth Chute Bridge joins the municipalities of North Algona Wilberforce and Bonnechere Valley.
Hurds Creek Culvert
Council is especially peeved with the work being done at Hurd’s Creek Culvert. Following a closed session, council stated their objections as read by CAO Annette Gilchrist. She read the points she will be presenting to the County of Renfrew through an open letter to the Operations Committee and county council. She said while BV has met with the county to discuss things it has not been satisfactory.
“We haven’t gotten anywhere with our requests,” she said.
The flow studies on the culvert are contradictory, she said. As well, the proposed bridge is a smaller one-lane bridge. Unfortunately, the tender has been approved at the county for this structure.
“There was no pre-consultation,” she said. “We asked the county to consult in the future when doing culverts in BV.”
There is a long detour to the Sand Road waste site because of the culvert work, she said. As well, materials are not on site now to begin work.
“We have requested a Lessard Bridge be put up so people can still use the road,” she said.
The bridge would mean the road could be used by many people including farmers getting hay, businesses and tourists, she noted.
Another concern is winter maintenance.
“It will be an issue and it will be unsafe,” she said. “The approach does not provide the best drainage.”
Council is not satisfied with the information BV has received to date on their concerns, Mrs. Gilchrist concluded.
Debbi Christinck, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Eganville Leader