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County defers road study at council meeting


by Adam Gault

Essex County Council voted to defer the Essex County Road Rationalization Study during the monthly meeting, which was held virtually, on Wednesday, September 2.

  Beginning in 2017, the study will help to determine how drivers use roads throughout Essex County, and whether certain roads should be designated either as county or municipal roads.

  “This goes back to when we had 21 municipalities, so where they [the roads] begin and where they end, is a very jumbled process,” Essex County CAO Rob Maisonville explained. “As the municipalities have grown over time, we’ve urbanized, and we need to figure out how we manage from both a county and a local perspective.”

  Part of the determination of whether a road would be re-classified as either a county or municipal road, is the overall usage of the road, such as if the road primarily transports goods or consumers.

  As an example, roads designated as county, responsibility would generally have less intersections than roads that would fall under the responsibility of their municipal counterparts. If a road’s designation has changed one way or another, it could have lasting impact on the ability of the surrounding community to effectively commute.

  This study seeks to determine what exactly 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.

  As part of the study noted, the challenge becomes how to manage a road, so that it can serve the local needs as a “Main Street” to urban centre areas, while maintaining an appropriate level of connectivity as part of the county road network.

  Concerns surrounding the determination of county and municipal roads, as well as the specifics of their costs-sharing between the levels of jurisdiction, was part of the reason for the deferral, with a member of Council adding an amendment that the report must be ready for October’s meeting.

  “We’ve been waiting on this for four years, and I think we have to start moving on it with some timelines,” LaSalle Mayor Marc Bondy said.

  Adding to the issue, Mayor Bondy stated that there are several roads within LaSalle that the Town would like to begin improvements on, but are currently unsure of whether the responsibility lies with Essex County, or the municipality.

  If approved in October, the costs of the study would be presented for consideration in the 2021 Essex County budget.

© 2020 The Essex Free Press ltd.

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