SD&G commuter highways need better winter clearing: Dundas County politicians

SD&G Coun. Allan Armstrong (North Dundas) makes a point about County Road 31 while Couns. Tony Fraser (North Dundas), Kirsten Gardner (South Dundas) and Steven Byvelds (South Dundas) look on during a committee meeting on Monday, March 18, 2019. The Dundas County politicians want better road conditions along commuter routes during peak morning and afternoon winter drive times. (Newswatch Group/Bill Kingston)

SD&G – Council members in Dundas County want more consistent winter road maintenance during the peak morning and afternoon commute.

The issue was brought up during a committee of SD&G council meeting Monday afternoon on winter maintenance standards for county roads.

“What our issue is specifically County Road 31,” Coun. Allan Armstrong said. “It is easily the most travelled road we have in SD&G. Part of the evidence I would point to would be the fact that…where a Tim Hortons is allowed for two of them to be built across (the road) from each other. I think that would indicate there’s a lot of vehicles.”

Coun. Kirsten Gardner – the deputy mayor of South Dundas and an Ottawa commuter – says having consistent winter maintenance helps to sell the region for people working in Ottawa. “Just being able to say consistently that they’re going to have a half way decent commute helps us out big time.”

She described the highway as having thousands of cars travelling into Ottawa on weekday mornings. “If I leave at 6:30 a.m. from Morrisburg to get to downtown Ottawa in a snowstorm, it’s about two-and-a-half hours with the traffic and the roads are bad,” Gardner added.

Coun. Steven Byvelds says complaints are usually about the condition of an entire highway from end to end. “They hit County Road 31, hit our border, the roads are in whatever condition they are and then they get past County Road 43 and, oh s—, it’s different again. And then they get past the other 43 and it’s different again. That consistency on a major route is lacking.”

“If there’s a lot of traffic at that time of day, we need to focus on those areas and forget about doing County Road 13, going all over the place, and concentrate on that (one road) once in a while,” Byvelds added.

SD&G Transportation Director Ben de Haan says they already put that thought into the major commuter routes, such as having a plow do County Road 2 all the way from Morrisburg to the City of Cornwall boundary.

Coun. Armstrong described the 6 a.m. start time for morning plowing as too late, suggesting it should be around 3:30-5:30 a.m. to meet a target for clear roads during the commute.

“I hear you, but it’s not easy as move that shift,” de Haan said.

Before making any changes to plow routes, the county will be doing a detailed traffic count over the next month on County Roads 31, 1, 7, 2 and 34 and give council an idea on what it would take to have a “bare and wet” surface on those roads during the peak commuter times.

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