Expect delays on Highways 21, 9 as construction season starts this month

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News

By Kristen Shane

 

Starting this month, it might take you a little longer to get where you need to go if you plan to drive along Highways 9 or 21. Construction is slated to begin on both major routes out of Kincardine, on areas close to town.

 

The Ministry of Transportation of Ontario plans to start $15 million worth of road work on a 12.9-kilometre stretch of Highway 21 just north of Highway 9 to Bruce County Road 15 in Tiverton. It should take a year and a half to pave the stretch, fix or replace culverts, add new curbs and gutters and do boulevard and sidewalk work through Tiverton, said Monica Fleck, an MTO regional spokesperson in an e-mail to The Independent last week.

 

What won’t be included in the reconstruction plans are snow drifting controls, such as the digging of deeper ditches to store plowed snow. They were originally approved in the project’s environmental assessment.

 

The MTO scrapped them in 2008, despite lobbying in protest from Kincardine and Bruce County politicians who say Highway 21 is one of the most closed highways in the province due to winter whiteouts. MTO spokesperson Bob Nichols said in February that the ministry is focusing its resources on improving bridge and pavement conditions rather than extra winter maintenance controls.

 

You’ll be seeing a lot more of these construction signs along Highway 21 for the next year and a half.  (Kristen Shane photo)

 

While paving is slated to start later this month, some associated road work has already begun. Two weeks ago, workers from Clearwater, a Port Elgin company that does landscaping and directional drilling, were moving Bruce Telecom telephone lines on the east side of Highway 21 near Tiverton. Bruce Telecom has to move its lines from the west to east side of Highway 21, said CEO Eric Dobson at a recent update to Kincardine council. In the process, the company has decided to replace the copper wire with fibre-optic line, an upgrade that will provide about 30 Highway 21 customers with access to digital television services they don’t have currently, said Dobson. Bruce Telecom expects the project to wrap up in early June, with a total estimated cost of $563,000.

 

The overall Highway 21 road reconstruction isn’t slated to end until November 2011.

 

There will be no detours, said Fleck. Temporary traffic control signals or traffic control workers with signs will squeeze traffic into one lane during the construction period.

 

Workers from Clearwater of Port Elgin were moving Bruce Telecom telephone lines on the east side of Highway 21 across from the Somerhill Golf Course two weeks ago in preparation for the full road reconstruction project, starting later this month. (Kristen Shane photo)

 

The MTO has hired Miller Paving Ltd. of Markham to do the road work.

 

Meanwhile, on Highway 9, the same company is slated to wrap up this year on a $4.5-million pavement repair project started last August on 19.1 kilometres of road from about Bruce Road 7, the road to Ripley, east to Bruce Road 4, at about Riversdale.

 

Once the project got going last August, workers finished drainage work and a 1.4-kilometre one-way section of paving.

 

“The pavement is very weather-sensitive. Because of the cool and wet weather we experienced last fall, (project co-ordinators determined) it would result in a better product if we terminated last fall and completed this spring,” said Mike Kelly, an area contracts engineer with the MTO, on Monday.

 

The rest of the pavement work is set to be finished by mid to late June, he said.

 

Like the Highway 21 project, no detours are scheduled but traffic in some sections is to be squeezed at times to one lane, alternating directions.

 

Drivers can expect minor delays, said Kelly.

 

Work was set to restart on May 17.