Williamstown ‘bypass’ could open as ‘at risk’ road

In this Google Maps image, South Glengarry council has approved opening a public right of way on Fairview Road from John Street to the fairgrounds. There's an appetite around council to open the entire so-called "bypass" (in yellow) to cars and trucks on an "at risk" basis. (Google Maps via Newswatch Group)

LANCASTER – A dirt road in Williamstown, known to locals as the “bypass,” could be open conditionally to vehicular traffic in the near future.

The stretch of road starts as Fairview Road off John Street (County Road 17) near the Williamstown Fairgrounds and runs northeast, where it turns into a section of the Peanut Line recreation trail before it reaches County Road 19.

After nine years of negotiation, township council approved opening a public right of way on Fairview Road from County Road 17 to the fairground entrance.

But talk around the council table was whether to open the rest of the road on an “at risk” basis to vehicles and whether it would expose the township to liability. Doing a formal public road opening would require an environmental assessment and archaeological report with a price tag around $605,000 – something many on council are not in favour of doing.

The road is appealing for large trucks and farm equipment because farmers and truckers are able to avoid the tight intersection at Bridge Street and John Street in downtown Williamstown.

Infrastructure GM Ewen MacDonald said a nearby landowner is okay with the arrangement and leaving the unopened section un-barricaded is a risk the township can take for the few number of vehicles using the road already.

“A lot of people are referring to it as the Williamstown bypass. With heavy equipment it does simplify things a lot. I think that we go ahead it because…it’s being used likely as much as it’s ever going to be used right now. I don’t see a great influx of vehicles,” Coun. Martin Lang said.

In an email to Cornwall Newswatch, MacDonald said the township would be “consulting with our insurance company on the wording for additional signage” on the section that’s not a public roadway.