Barrier advocates support plan, but want quicker action

first_imgHarvey, Robin / SunMedia While pleased that concrete median barriers are part of the overall upgrades planned for Highway 401, safety advocates say they’re still concerned with its anticipated 2021 start date.Alysson Storey, founder of the grassroots group Build the Barrier, said the province’s plan for the multi-year construction project contains more specifics, but she still believes it should be accelerated, noting she hopes the project isn’t punted to the next government.“Overall, there’s a lot more detail, which we’re always appreciative of,” she said, “but the biggest red flag is at the end, which states pending funding and approval.“There’s no question it needs to get done now. I think we’ve made the argument, as have many others.”The Ontario Ministry of Transportation has retained Stantec Consulting Ltd. to complete the preliminary design, begin the detail design and conduct the needed environmental assessment study for the work to widen and improve approximately 118 kilometres of the highway from Tilbury to London. This process will consider pavement and bridge improvements, corridor management, traffic safety, traffic volumes, environmental impacts, drainage and maintenance operations.The study will also consider the overall construction sequence for the proposed improvements.According to the project website, construction is expected to begin in 2021 subject to funding and approvals. Specific timing for the various components of construction will be confirmed as the study progresses.Storey became involved as an advocate after family friend Sarah Payne and daughter Freya, both of London, were killed in a 2017 median cross-over collision. Sarah Payne, 42, and daughter Freya, 5, were killed in a head-on crash southwest of London on Aug. 29, 2017.center_img While understanding there’s a process to be followed, Storey said Transportation Minister Caroline Mulroney has the ability to expedite matters.Storey said she anticipates her group will hold another public town hall, similar to one held two years ago, once more is known.Kathleen Reed, another advocate for the barriers after fiancé Gary Lent was killed in a cross-over crash in 2017, said she was “super-excited” to see that concrete barriers were included in the project.However, she admits she remains cautiously optimistic.“I won’t believe it until I see it start going up,” she said.In an email to Postmedia late Wednesday, the Ministry of Transportation stated it had “started planning and design work to widen Highway 401 from Tilbury to London and to install a concrete median barrier.”“The ministry will move forward with construction as designs are finalized and funding is approved,” the email stated.Noting that “everything takes time,” Chatham-Kent––Leamington’s Progressive Conservative MPP, Rick Nicholls, said the cable median barriers installed in certain sections in the meantime are a least something to improve safety.“That’s better than nothing at this point,” he said.Nicholls pledged the promised upgrades will be completed.“They can rest assured that I will be all over this, ensuring that construction is moving forward,” he said. “There’s a lot of moving parts.”[email protected]/DailyNewsTTlast_img

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