Tehkkummah council fears local backroads will be compromised by seven month-long Highway 542 detour

A sign announces the closure of Highway 542.

TEHKUMMAH—Members of Tehkummah council expressed their concerns over the detours that will be in place beginning Monday, March 12 while three structural plate corrugated steel centreline culverts over Blue Jay Creek on Highway 542 are replaced. It is expected that Highway 542 will be closed at Blue Jay Creek until early fall.

Westbound traffic (to Mindemoya) will be detoured onto Highway 6, then on to Sideroad 10, then to Townline Road and Highway 542A. The work will be staged so that access to individual and commercial properties, such as the Garden’s Gate Restaurant, will be provided.

Concerns included incorrectly placed detour signs and traffic that doesn’t follow detour routes, including contractor vehicles.

Councillor Mike McKenzie stated, “There are detour signs all over. They’re going to destroy every road we’ve got and fix only one.”

“There should be no hauling,” added Councillor Paul Bowerman. “Belanger trucks (the contractor) are travelling that route now. If the roads aren’t on the detour list they shouldn’t be on them.”

Councillor McKenzie agreed. “Our roads department has got to be right on top of those trucks. 6th Concession, 15th Side Road, Government Road and 2nd Concession all need signs that say local traffic only.”

Several councillors were concerned about additional traffic loads on Snake Trail. Reeve Eric Russell pointed out that, “we can’t stop people from travelling a road just because there’s a sign on it that says Local Traffic Only.

CouncillorMcKenzie mentioned a culvert on a detour route near his home, where a hole in the culvert had been repaired. “It should have been replaced but it was repaired,” he said. “It simply won’t hold up to all that traffic.”

Council agreed to convey their concerns at the next construction meeting.

The designated detour route in the Township of Tehkummah involves Highway 6, Highway 542A and Side Road 10, explained Ministry of Transportation regional issues and media advisor, northeastern region, Gordan Rennie. This is the most direct detour for affected traffic.  Since Side Road 10 is a municipal road under the jurisdiction of the Township of Tehkummah, the Ministry of Transportation has committed to ensuring the road is inspected before, during and after construction and returned to the same or better condition following construction.

The designated detour is the one that is being signed and that has been presented to the public throughout the planning process for the culvert replacements, Mr. Rennie said. The ministry will monitor the flow of traffic around the highway closure and make adjustments to the signed detour and local road maintenance, as required, in collaboration with the township.