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County Council extends road rationalization study

by Kyle Reid

Essex County’s Road Rationalization study will extend for another 10 months after members of County Council agreed to delay the report until January of next year during the Wednesday, April 17 regular meeting of County Council.

According to Jane Mustac, the County’s Manager of Transportation and Planning, County officials began an overall assessment of its roadways nearly 10 months ago. The goal of the assessment is to define which roadways should fall under the County’s responsibility. The main determination would be made based on which roads were decided to be essential to shuttle commuters, goods, and services throughout the County, Mustac said.

The final determination was expected for July of this year; however, that report will be delayed after Mustac recommended extending the study as well as allocating an additional $70,000 to perform the work. In her recommendation to Council on Wednesday, Mustac said that determining which roads should fall under the County’s domain is more difficult than was first anticipated.

“Road Rationalization is a complex and critical undertaking that could result in substantially new [and] changed responsibilities, financial and otherwise, for the County,” Mustac said in her recommendation.

Essex County Chief Administrative Officer Robert Maisonville, agreed with Mustac’s assessment, explaining to Council that the original timeframe for the study may have been too bold, given the scope and importance of the work.  

“We had a very aggressive timeframe to begin with that we knew would be difficult to tackle,” Masionville said. “We want to bring a more wholesome report back to Council — not just a picture and what the implications are. We’re not going to ask you to agree to a map until we know the implications.”

Further complicating matters, Mustac noted, is that adding roads to the County Road system without proper review could have a negative effect on local municipalities — the consideration being that local townships may need the roadways for future development needs. As part of the study, municipalities were tasked with providing the County a list of roads they believed should be part of the County network, and submitted 21 roads.

“Right now, the local municipalities have the right to collect development charges,” Mustac said, responding to a question from Kingsville Mayor Nelson Santos on the subject. “But when a local road goes to a County Road, you would not have that ability anymore.”

Following Mustac’s recommendation, Council voted unanimously to delay the report.

© 2020 The Essex Free Press ltd.

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