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Council discusses possibility County Road 50 may get downloaded

- the issue is part of the upcoming Essex County Roads Rationalization Study -



by Sylene Argent

During the Essex Council meeting on September 8, Deputy Mayor Richard Meloche noted County Council members had their first viewing of the County Road Rationalization report earlier this month.

  This report, he said, started around four-years ago, with the Town of LaSalle’s Mayor, Marc Bondy, making the request. He is continuing to push for the study, Meloche said.

The report was deferred to a future County Council meeting.

  As part of the study, County Road 50 was being proposed, west of Erie, as possibly being assumed by the Town of Essex, in addition to County Road 41.

  “That’s the most current recommendation from County Council at this point in time,” Meloche said of the possible impact on Essex, due to the study.

  “It is still to be debated, obviously,” Meloche said, adding he believes he and Mayor Larry Snively will argue the thoroughfare should remain under the care of Essex County because of its tourism aspect. He believes he and Snively, in addition to administrational support, will have a strategy.

  Meloche believes the entire route along the shoreline of Lake Erie should continue to be County roads to ensure proper maintenance is given to the outside edge of the county, and that any tourism issues, for instance cycling, can be upheld through the County roads system.

  Snively said County Road 50 from Colchester west, is a mess.

  “The road is checkered. The road is done,” he said. “To me, it should have been done this year, repaved. But, it is not going to be done.”

  If the road is downloaded from the County to the Town of Essex, “We will fight to make sure that road is upgraded before it is handed over to us,” Snively said.

  Councillor Chris Vander Doelen was glad to hear the Mayor and Deputy Mayor of Essex have raised the issue, because it would be a huge responsibility to the Town if the road was downloaded onto Essex taxpayers’ backs.

  Vander Doelen would like to know how much it would cost to rebuild the stretch Snively spoke of, how many kilometres it is, and if snow removal would be effected. He said there are several lanes and beach roads along that stretch, and if the downloading changes the county snow removal service, that could be a serious problem.

  He also wondered about the responsibility of the bike lanes in the area.

  “I think we need to get the public involved. This is the kind of thing I think only public pressure will change, or will certainly help prevent,” he added.

  CAO Chris Nepszy said the study has been around for four years, and for four years, it is even noted in the report, the Town of Essex does not believe the road should be downloaded. “It is well known to the County and the consultant,” he said. “We will continue to carry the torch for the Town that way.”

  Right now, Nepszy said, the County of Essex is trying to determine the roads network, how that works in each municipality, and how the connecting links work, which seems to be the bigger issue of downloading of most of those roads.

  Councillor Sherry Bondy wondered if it would be worthwhile to forward Essex Council’s position that it does not want County Road 50 downloaded.

  Meloche said when he or Snively addresses an issue at County Council, it is mostly understood they are speaking on behalf of Council, and sometimes, they note it is a Council desire. He added that it does not even make sense for the County to download County Road 50 to the Town of Essex, because it is a connecting road from Leamington through to Amherstburg. He doesn’t think the road will be downloaded to the Town.

  “I don’t think there is really any need to have a letter or anything like that. It’s usually understood that Council supports whatever the ideas the Mayor or Deputy Mayor are bringing forward. We will make sure though, that we say, we have 100 percent support from our administration and our fellow Town Council members on this issue; that we fully believe that County Road 50 needs to remain as part of the County Roads Network,” Meloche said.

  At the Essex County Council meeting held on Wednesday, September 2, the Essex County Road Rationalization Study was deferred to a meeting in October.

  The road rationalization study was planned over three phases: define the transportation network; road classification and examine recommendations /jurisdictional impacts; and implementation action plan.

  The study is meant to determine what the specifications would be in designating certain roads as county or municipal, as well as the potential implementation of a new cost-sharing mechanism between the County and municipalities.

© 2020 The Essex Free Press ltd.

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