New Providence Bay bridge design a hazard to pedestrian traffic

“Pedestrian paths keeps pedestrians safe”

To the Expositor:

At the public meeting on the proposed bridge replacement at Providence Bay, I was informed that the current standard for Ontario has eliminated pedestrian walkways on highway bridges, so as to reduce costs and eliminate difficulties with winter snow removal.

At first glance, this might seem like a reasonable opportunity to save taxpayers some money, and simplify the bridge design.

However, MTO’s policy and current plans cause significant risks for local pedestrians, bicycles, baby buggies, and others without a protected walkway and bike path.

For highway bridges that are hundreds of kilometres from the nearest house or store, a sidewalk may not be necessary. However, a bridge with no walkway that is located in the middle of a city or hamlet is something totally different.

In addition, there is the loss of employment income in all communities, big and small, throughout Ontario by eliminating these walkways. Statistics Canada reports Ontario currently has 541,000 unemployed persons. Add to this the 105,000 people who are under-employed, for a total job shortfall of 646,000 jobs.

Seasonal work, especially in winter, can make a huge difference in people’s lives, from the added money, as well as enabling people to serve a useful purpose in society.

If citizens are unable to gain sufficient employment and/or purpose in their lives, this sad situation causes or contributes to increased incidence and prevalence rates for added stress, poverty, despair, depression, premature death, suicide, and dysfunctional behaviours such as domestic violence, substance abuse and crime.

I suggest MTO can draft a provincial standard for winter maintenance of bridge walkways. Contracts can then be offered by MTO to the bridge’s nearest regional government, municipality, county, township, Ontario Works, or Community Living (or the sub-contracting of the work by them to other interested individuals or organizations). The auditing of compliance to MTO’s bridge walkway standard can be performed by the MTO contractor who performs the winter road maintenance.

This sub-contracted winter maintenance might enable people to also do winter maintenance for nearby homeowners and others, perhaps becoming fully self-employed in the off season; in a productive, uplifting manner.

This is not a “make work” project, for the pedestrian path helps keep pedestrians safe.

MTO’s focus on so called “efficiency,” convenience and lowest cost aren’t the only issues to consider for the new bridge at Providence Bay.

Glenn Black

Providence Bay