‘All our roads are detours now’

Signs like this warn drivers to take caution.

Tehkummah councillor laments highway construction

TEHKUMMAH­­––The replacement of three culverts has closed Hwy 542 east and west of Hwy 542A and created detour routes through the Township of Tehkummah and as a result, a deterioration of the roads. Designated detour roads involve Highway 6, Highway 542A and Side Road 10, according to Gordan Rennie, regional issues and media advisor with the Ministry of Transportation, Northeastern Region.

“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 previously. “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.”

The problem, according to Tehkummah council and local residents, is that the detour signage is sometimes confusing and Islanders, including delivery truck drivers, are using alternate routes that get them to their destination more quickly. The increased traffic is causing rapid tar and chip deterioration on the Tenth Sideroad and Smeltzer’s Road is nearly undrivable. Other roads are rutted and covered in water.

It’s scenes like this on Tehkummah’s detour roads, like the Tenth Concession seen above, that has Tehkummah council asking what is to become of its roads with increased traffic every day.
photos by Alicia McCutcheon

A frustrated Councillor Paul Bowerman stated, “They need to maintain the roads. We need to go after them because our roads are deteriorating every day. At our last meeting (with the MTO) I asked, ‘what are you going to do when the Tenth closes when it floods’?”

Side Road 10 did flood over, as it usually does during the spring thaw. Many potholes were left behind once the water had partially receded.

“Nobody has come to council and said a thing,” said Councillor Bowerman. “The Tenth is a disaster. Our road crew is maintaining the detours and they shouldn’t be.”

Townline Road (between Hwy 542 and Side Road 10) also concerns council. There are no berms on the side of the road and the road itself is lower than the shoulder. Many Tehkummah roads are similarly constructed.

Smeltzer’s Road is posted as closed except to local traffic but has continued to be used by non-local drivers.  The municipality can’t close Smeltzer’s Road as it needs to be accessible for emergency vehicles.

“Emergency vehicles couldn’t get down that road,” remarked Councillor Ron Hierons.

Acting Clerk-Treasurer Barb Deforge told council the OPP suggested officers  could contact people who drive on the closed road if someone records licence plate numbers.

Council resolved to request a meeting with the MTO “so a proper joint investigation can take place with council” at its regular council meeting on April 10 and again on May 1. To date, no such meeting has occurred.

Reeve Eric Russell has since noted that contractor Belanger Construction is working with the township to improve detour road conditions.