Lawrence pens open letter to MTO on deadly intersection

Featured image for Lawrence pens open letter to MTO on deadly intersection

By Mike Renzella

The Haldimand Press

CALEDONIA—Ward 3 Councillor Dan Lawrence is once again stirring the pot regarding the controversial intersection located at Highway 6 and Haldibrook Road, publicly calling on the Ministry of Transportation to address safety concerns at the intersection in an open letter penned to MTO Traffic Engineering Head Frank Hochstenbach.

The letter, sent following what Lawrence called a “significant traffic accident” that shut down a stretch of Highway 6 last week, asked for an update on an MTO promise made last fall to address the issue through the installation of traffic lights.

“The MTO, your bureaucracy, has completed the warrants as we all know, the need for implementation is warranted/necessary, when can we expect signal lights at said intersection? Or may I phrase it differently, how many more lives need to be taken before change to make this stretch of road safer?” asked Lawrence.

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He offered to meet Hochstenbach and other MTO reps face-to-face at the intersection to discuss the matter, noting that Haldimand MPP Bobbi Ann Brady, Flamborough-Glanbrook MPP Donna Skelly, and Glanbrook Councillor Mark Tadeson supported the idea and would take part in said meeting if asked.

  Lawrence said that following months of inaction after MTO’s initial announcement regarding the intersection, he hopes the public letter will send a firm message and inspire the government agency to speed up their efforts.

Hochstenbach responded to Lawrence’s letter by directing his inquiry to MTO staff. He said the intersection is overseen by the Central Region office, not the West Region office, which oversees the majority of Haldimand’s roads.

The MTO responded to our inquiry on Lawrence’s letter, “A traffic-volume count conducted in the summer of 2022 for the Haldibrook Road/Highway 6 intersection determined that traffic signals are required. Construction will follow completion of the design and securing environmental approvals. There will be opportunities for the public to provide input during the design.”

The statement also provided a brief update on the replacement of the Argyle Street Bridge, stating they are “continuing to work to prepare for construction”. Completed prep work includes “installation of temporary traffic signals, strengthening of three of the bridge spans, and completion of mussel relocations,” the latter of which was done in 2020. More recently, the MTO added, “In 2022 the ministry improved the condition of the Argyle Toll House to address concerns due to location of the house.” They also noted that “the community will be informed prior to construction start,” but not when this should be expected.

The statement did not address several questions asked by The Press, including:

An updated timeline on the work being done in Caledonia, including a definitive statement on whether the Haldibrook intersection and/or the Argyle Street Bridge replacement will see movement/be completed in 2023.

Whether the MTO will meet with Councillor Lawrence, as invited.

Lawrence categorized the MTO’s response so far as “frustrating, infuriating, not surprising, and pathetic in my opinion,” accusing the ministry of lacking urgency following a seemingly never-ending series of delays.

“Each day lives are at risk on highways everywhere, but this stretch from Mount Hope to Caledonia, long and flat, fosters speeding and complacency. The need is NOW,” said Lawrence, who has seen support in this sentiment from other area politicians.

Glanbrook Councillor Mark Tadeson confirmed he has had several discussions with Lawrence on the matter and would gladly take part in an in-person meeting, adding, “We both share concerns about speed, visibility, and the resulting accidents at this intersection.”

  Tadeson, Lawrence, and MPP Skelly spoke about the issue at a recent conference, with Tadeson personally raising the issue with Transportation Minister Carolyn Mulroney. Basing his prediction on similar MTO projects in his ward, Tadeson said he expects the lights are “a few years away from implementation unless the project is fast tracked.”

  He forwarded an email from Skelly’s office following the conference, which mirrored the comments provided to The Press by the MTO with no confirmed timelines. The Press also reached out to Skelly for comment and received a similar response, noting the project would be “prioritized against other highway improvement needs.”

Tadeson has since followed up with the MTO, seeking further clarification, but has not received a reply.

He commented on the project’s slow movement, noting, “It’s a unique intersection, shared by three separate governing bodies. It’s a Provincial Highway but Haldimand and Hamilton also share responsibility over this intersection because they collectively manage Haldibrook Road. I am coming to understand that the bureaucracy, whether it’s federally, provincially, or at the municipal level, works cautiously as there are multiple studies that need to be completed and unfortunately that means slowly even for something as simple as new traffic lights. It’s frustrating but it’s the reality we live in.”

He confirmed that he will continue to collaborate with Lawrence in a coordinated effort to complete the installation.

MPP Brady also confirmed plans to bring the issue to light at Queen’s Park, in the hopes of providing a “more fulsome answer,” noting as well that discussions continue both “in the House and behind closed doors.”

Brady’s office said that the MTO correspondence to them identified the intersection as dangerous and a priority for them: “Bobbi Ann has followed that confirmation up by pressuring MTO to commit to getting the lights installed now that they’ve identified them as a priority.”

Lawrence concluded, “This was, is, and will be an ongoing exercise at the MTO until action is taken by them.”

The Press will provide updates on both the intersection and bridge as available.