HIGHWAY 551—On July 13, Manitoulin Island Cycling Advocates (MICA) received word from Minister of Transportation Glen Murray that their lobbying efforts had once again paid off, as Islanders will see the portion of road connecting Highway 540 at M’Chigeeng to the intersection in downtown Mindemoya at Highway 542 paved (1.8 kilometres) along Highway 551.
“It’s absolutely fantastic,” MICA chair Maja Mielonen said of the news.
Ms. Mielonen noted that this route is crucial for a great deal of students, from Lakeview School, Kenjgewin Teg Educational Institute, Manitoulin Secondary School and Central Manitoulin Public School. Having paved shoulders along this stretch of road will provide a safe and healthy alternative for students making their way to school, she added.
Monitoring the Ministry of Transportation (MTO) website, MICA learned of its plans to resurface Highway 551 in 2015 last year. This is when the lobbying to have the shoulders done while the equipment and materials are there kicks into high gear, she explained. This is the same way Highway 6 saw its shoulders paved.
It also helps, Ms. Mielonen added, that MICA has plenty of local support, plus the support of the LaCloche-Manitoulin Business Assistance Corporation (LAMBAC). “All together it helps and it just keeps snowballing now,” she said.
“The new premier gave us Highway 6 and Glen Murray gave us Highway 551,” Ms. Mielonen pointed out, noting that Mr. Murray is an avid cyclist himself and a believer in sustainable urban planning—developing communities around pedestrians, public transportation and cyclists, not just drivers and roads.
“It will be a fantastic way of attracting people who love what we have,” Ms. Mielonen said of the newest addition to Manitoulin’s paved shoulders.
The chair said she anticipates good numbers for cyclist traffic from the Chi-Cheemaun once its annual report is released following its 2013 season.
Also discovered on the MTO website are plans to resurface 16 kilometres of Highway 540 west of Kagawong. While this stretch of road has not been lobbied for by MICA, Ms. Mielonen said she is hoping someone will pick up the cause. For lobbying tips, she points to MICA’s website, www.manitoulincycling.com.
“If there’s a will, that would be fantastic,” she added.