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  • Writer's pictureESSEX FREE PRESS

Horwath announces commitment to Highway # 3 widening

by Sylene Argent  

With the NDP at the helm, Andrea Horwath said Highway # 3 will not only be a priority, she suspects the widening of the section from Essex to Leamington would be done in around two years.

She said work would commence right away. “It is one of the priorities we have and we have made the commitment.”

Horwath and Essex Riding NDP candidate, incumbent Taras Natyshak, spoke to supporters during a rally held alongside Highway # 3 in Leamington last Wednesday.

“People need to be able to get to work and home again, safety. That’s not too much to ask for,” Natyshak said. “But, Highway 3 is putting lives at risk. It is a dangerous highway, collisions keep happening, and people are frankly scared to drive on it.”

As the economy grows, more and more greenhouses are being established in the area. With that, “there is only going to be more trucks and traffic on this road, making it even more dangerous to drive on.

“The solution should have been fixed years ago, but it wasn’t, and it is incredibly frustrating for the people [who] live here and drive this road every day,” Natyshak said, adding individuals worry every time they use the thoroughfare or when they know a loved one is.

Horwath said, “This highway, for sometime now, has been identified as one that needs some significant improvements.” She added the safety solutions were brought forward back in 2006.

She said families have told her they do not want their young adult drivers utilizing the thoroughfare. “It doesn’t have to be this way,” she said, noting the collision rate on the highway is significant.

  “Highway 3 needs to be twinned. It needs to be twinned now,” Horwath said. “We know for sure, this is a Highway the Liberals have allowed to languish. She added the Liberals re-named a portion of the road after late Essex MPP Bruce Crozier, “But re-naming a highway does not make it safer. We need to make sure it is safe for people and I’m sure Mr. Crozier would be agreeing with that.”

Horwath believes PC leader Doug Ford is not the solution as she fears he will cut services and reduced investments in projects such as Highway # 3.     

The NDP, she said, has a plan to not only twin the remainder of the highway, but to also ensure families and agricultural workers can get their goods to market and travel safely on the road.

“We also have to change the way we work with communities, who are the experts on what is happening on their roadways,” Horwath said.

“Not only will we be twinning Highway 3, we are also going to look at the challenges that continue to exist and the voices in Southwestern Ontario that are continuing to be concerned about the condition of the 401,” that includes barrier improvements from Windsor to London, she said.

Work needs to be done to determine the best methods along the entire highway. “We re going to be relying on the design process with the experts in terms of which treatments to put on which parts of the highway.” Implementation would be done as soon as possible, she said of the 401.

“These are not things we are going to allow to linger. We believe Southwestern Ontario has been ignored, frankly, and their infrastructure has been ignored by the Liberal government. That’s why we are here today, to talk about how New Democrats will not allow this region to be ignored.”

In addition, she said the NDP plan will end hallway medicine, bring dignity to seniors in seniors’ care, and make sure young people have an education that does not create a burden and that more opportunities are presented to them. They also plan to make the electricity system not only more affordable for everyone but bring the system back into the public realm.    

Local dignitaries from area municipalities, members of LiUNA 627, construction professionals, and representatives of the local harness racing association, attended the event.

Essex Mayor Ron McDermott was happy to hear the announcement about Highway 3 from the NDP. He thinks funding has been a barrier in getting the project completed.

“She has at least said two years. We could be doing this in two years. That would be great,” he said, adding he doubted if the Liberals were elected that Highway # 3 would be completed as the Town of Essex just received two letters, one from the Minister of Transportation, Kathryn McGarry, and another from Ministry of Transportation’s office of the Regional Director of the west region, Neil Zohorsky.

Though both letters noted Ontario remains committed to finishing the plans to widen Highway 3 between Windsor and Leamington to four lanes, and that the project is listed in the 2017-2021 Southern Highways Program under Planning for the Future, the letter from Zohorsky stated the Ministry plans to do work on Highway # 3, from Essex Road 34 to Highway 77 in Leamington. As shown in the 2017-2021 Southern Highways Program, construction would begin between 2019 and 2021. The work would include resurfacing the highway and does not include widening.

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