Township of Tehkummah councillors are faced with numerous budgetary challenges, so much so that they have recently instituted a spending lock that has shut out even the Easter Bunny from township funding, but one thing they most certainly didn’t need was the added stress of traffic being rerouted across town roads by the Ministry of Transportation (MTO) while it works on replacing three culverts over Blue Jay Creek at Highway 542.
Although the MTO has apparently given Tehkummah assurances that the ministry will return the main detour route, along the 10th Sideroad and Townline Road, to “as good or better” condition when they are done, the council’s concerns that the detour will increase traffic on the other township roads remains an issue. True, the signage does seem to be fairly clear, despite councillors’ concerns to the contrary, but when dealing with folks coming from the Chi-Cheemaun ferry and travelling to the west of the Island through Mindemoya, they will quite possibly not be familiar with the alternate route and there quite will likely be greater traffic on the roads.
As a number of Tehkummah councillors have pointed out, that municipality’s roads are challenged by the impact of tight budgets and high turnover in the roads department in recent years and are quite likely not up to the challenge of increased traffic. It is understandable that Tehkummah council members have concerns about how the increased traffic will impact their other town roads.
This being a free country, keeping travellers off of public roads is clearly not an option, although placing load restrictions on those roads that are particularly sensitive to high and heavy traffic may well be an option council may wish to consider. But recent roadwork in other parts of Manitoulin by the MTO have illustrated that there are other options available.
The recent work conducted on Highway 540 in Honora Bay witnessed culverts being replaced while traffic was routed through a single lane, as was work elsewhere on that route. Of course, there was no convenient alternate route through municipal roads available in those instances, and the work took considerably longer than might have otherwise been the case, but the system seemed to work with a minimum of inconvenience to the travelling public.
The detours in Tehkummah could have a potentially significant impact on local business and the increased traffic on municipal roads places a burden on a township that is already struggling with significant challenges. Tehkummah councillors don’t need the additional worry and strain that a detour utilizing municipal roads would entail.
While road restrictions on the non-detour roads might help alleviate the situation, policing such regulations would place yet another onerous burden on a township budget that, as council has recently indicated, can no longer even afford the cost of a donation to support an Easter egg hunt for the youth of its community.