Municipal roads key issue during special town meeting

Updated: Feb 13, 2020

by Adam Gault

Essex Council held a special Council meeting on the evening of Monday, February 10. During the roundtable-style meeting, discussions on a variety of Town issues were held in a more candid forum than a regular Council meeting.

  A first for Council, one of the primary ideas behind the meeting was to discuss Town-related issues between Councillors in a conversational setting to determine if they should be brought forward more formally in the regular Council chambers.

  “I think that this is something that Council has been batting around for awhile,” Essex CAO Chris Nepszy said of the evening’s proceedings. “What I understood the intent to be when we talked about these roundtable discussions was to have a forum for Council to have an open, casual discussion about items that you might not feel fit bringing up in Council Chambers.”

  With that, the dominating theme of the special meeting was the subject of municipal roads, in line with recent discussions of the state of several Town roads being key issues at recent Council meetings.

  Citing extensive traffic counts on major Town roads over the last decade, there was a discussion on how to prioritize which roads are in most urgent need of maintenance, with one potential idea being to enact a five-year plan to approach the issue.

  “We’ll start something, a top 10, top 20 list, and come back with those costs and those ratings,” Nepszy said, as direction was given to bring back a new Roads Assessment this coming summer.

“[Administration] will then walk [Council] through the state of our roads and where they fit, urban and rural, and try to get some data back to you.”

  Continuing with the subject of Town roadways, Council then discussed “troubled” intersections throughout the municipality, with King and Erie in Harrow, and the intersections of Arthur, Gosfield, and Maidstone, and Talbot and Maidstone, in Essex Centre taking top priority.

  Regarding the unusual meeting of three roads at Arthur, Gosfield, and Maidstone, it was discussed that part of the reason for the strange layout is to allow larger trucks to move between Arthur and Maidstone, with it being noted that it had been discussed in the past to reconfigure Maidstone into a straight thoroughfare while “dead-ending” Gosfield just before it reaches its norther terminus.

  It was noted there have been continued concerns around trucks navigating the intersection and continued access for area residents should there be any potential reconfigurations to the intersection.

  As for Talbot and Maidstone, bemoaned by many as one of the Town’s most frustrating intersections, it was discussed that it be given a wider berth on the northwest (gas station) corner to allow for easier right-hand turning onto Maidstone for westbound drivers.

  In addition, the idea of looking at shifting the centre lines, to allow for simpler and safer left-hand turns, was also discussed, with the Town currently waiting for engineers’ recommendations regarding these intersections.

  Many of the potential issues of the roundtable discussion were not able to be fit into the meeting’s two-hour time limit, but are planned to be discussed at a similar meeting in the future.

© 2020 The Essex Free Press ltd.

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