April 29, 2022
LYN – Elizabethtown-Kitley is upgrading Halleck’s Road West this year, from a gravel road to one that is surface treated, with support from the Ontario Ministry of Transportation (MTO). This project is one of three key supports that the Township has negotiated with MTO to help mitigate negative impacts on fire and emergency response time which will result from next year’s planned reconstruction of the Halleck’s Road 401 underpass.
“I am proud to have championed the concerns of our Fire Department and our residents since I first learned of the Province’s plan to fully close Halleck’s Road South during the entire period of demolition and reconstruction of the 401 underpass,” said Brant Burrow, Mayor of the Township of Elizabethtown-Kitley. “As the dream of widening the 401 highway throughout our region starts to become an exciting reality, we have to ensure that the ultimate prize does not come at too high a cost.”
Since the summer of 2020, MTO has been steadily advancing its Halleck’s Road bridge reconstruction project, which will see the existing structure completely demolished to make way for a new design that can ultimately accommodate up to eight lanes of highway traffic. Halleck’s Road South, where the bridge is located, will undergo a full closure for the duration of the project which is currently scheduled for the 2023 construction season and is expected to last for eight months.
During the MTO’s stakeholder engagements, the Township expressed concern over the severe impacts the local community would endure as a result of a full road closure, especially one expected to last several months. Beyond the inconvenience of such a closure, the primary concerns centered around three key issues:
- the doubling of fire response times from Fire Station #1 in Lyn to southern regions of the Township and to incidents along the 401;
- the current condition of Halleck’s Road West making it ill-suited to act as a viable primary fire route; and,
- the resulting change in traffic patterns in which Halleck’s Road West is anticipated to experience a significant increase in daily commuter usage.
“Once I was able to convey our concerns to provincial officials in terms they could relate to, I am pleased to say that everyone really began to see the problem through our eyes. In the end, MTO stepped up with meaningful supports which will result in direct and measurable solutions to the specific challenges that this project presents for our community. The Township is certainly very grateful for these supports,” Burrow said.
The agreement between MTO and the Township, which totals more than $650,000 in funding support from the Province, is targeted at three specific initiatives:
- surface treatment of Halleck’s Road West – during 2022, in readiness for the closure of Halleck’s Road South in early 2023 – in order to support its use as a viable alternate response route for Fire & Emergency Services;
- a fire prevention public education enhancement in the affected regions (pamphlets and a two-phase door-to-door campaign), ahead of the 401 underpass reconstruction project; and,
- additional, specific, around-the-clock staffing at the Lyn Fire Hall to mitigate delays introduced by construction detours and the full closure of Halleck’s Road South.
“As our government builds up our transit infrastructure, including expanding the 401 highway, we are committed to ensuring our fire and emergency services can continue to keep our community safe. This investment will support fire prevention public education, additional frontline staffing, and resurfacing at Hallecks Road West to serve our growing community.” – Steve Clark, MPP Leeds – Grenville – Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes
“The Halleck’s Road bridge demolition and reconstruction project will have an impact on response delay for the fire service south and west of Hillcrest Road, to the Front of Yonge boundary. Through numerous meetings, the Province did not ignore our concerns. With their support, Elizabethtown-Kitley is able to improve and recondition Halleck’s Road West, as well as provide a 24/7 staff member to be at the Lyn Station. This staffing is critical in order to ready the vehicles and to ensure appropriate drivers/operators are already available as the balance of our volunteers begin to arrive – thus reducing anticipated response times back to normal for the affected areas. In addition, an advance door-to-door Fire Prevention campaign will be conducted to those affected properties, offering fire safety information and a free home inspection for fire safety and prevention.” – Jim Donovan, Fire Chief, Township of Elizabethtown-Kitley
- Halleck’s Road South is among the Township’s top-10 busiest roads, and has an average daily traffic volume (ADT) of 630 vehicles. The 401 highway at that location has an annual average daily traffic volume (AADT) of 37,000 vehicles. Every month of full closure of Halleck’s Road South has the equivalent impact of closing the 401 highway, in one direction, for 24 hours. An 8 month bridge construction project would have the same cumulative impact as 8 full days of 401 closure in one direction.
- Halleck’s Road West currently has an average daily traffic volume (ADT) of 300 vehicles. Though it is specifically not intended to be a designated detour route during the construction project, GPS navigation systems are well known for suggesting it as an alternative when traffic backs up in the area. Surface treating this road prior to the bridge reconstruction project will allow it to withstand the anticipated increase in traffic, as well as making it a viable fire and emergency response route.
- The closure of Halleck’s Road South will impact the fire response times to 441 properties in the south-western portion of the township. This represents 11% of all addresses throughout the entire 550 sq km of the municipality. Without any mitigation, the response from Fire Station #1 in Lyn would double (from 6 minutes, to 12 minutes) in many cases.
- Specific 24/7 staffing at Fire Station #1 for the duration of the bridge construction project will help to minimize delays normally associated with initial volunteer response. Overall, it is anticipated that the net effect will result in response times to 401 incidents and affected areas of the Township remaining normalized.
- Public education relating to fire prevention, ahead of the Halleck’s Road South closure, is intended to enhance awareness in the region in an effort to reduce the number of emergency incidents.