CORNWALL – Pitt Street North will close nightly at the Highway 401 overpass through the middle of September.
City council debated the issue during a special council meeting Monday night before agreeing to the request. The only councillors to vote against it were Justin Towndale and Eric Bergeron – both concerned about how it will affect response times for emergency services.
Representatives from the Ministry of Transportation told councillors that they are dealing with around 15 trucks daily disobeying signs and heading down the street where there’s a 3.6 meter clearance rule in place.
The problem is not a money issue but manpower – the MTO and the contractor can’t find people to be flaggers during the overnight hours.
Only cyclists and pedestrians will be able to travel through the site between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m. starting Tuesday night and that will continue through Sept. 17.
MTO spokesman Joanna Bruce told Cornwall Newswatch that while the closure will be in place there is no stipulation in the contract for the construction company to work on the overpass every night.
In other words, there may be nights where the road is closed and nothing is going on.
As well, while there are financial incentives in the contract for next year when the second overpass is built, Bruce said there is no incentive for financial bonuses for the contractor, R.W. Tomlinson, to finish early.
Mayor Bernadette Clement told MTO officials she was “extremely disappointed” with the situation and for foisting an MTO problem on the city. “This is your project. It’s not a city project,” she said before voting for the closure.
The majority of councillors who voted for the closure cited safety concerns if one truck happens to hit the bridge under construction.
The MTO and contractor have city police manning the site tonight (Monday) before the full closure at the bridge goes into effect Tuesday night at 9 p.m.