Serious MTO woes need immediate attention

By Bobbi Ann Brady

As I get older, my appreciation for adages like “Those were the days” and “It didn’t used to be that way” grow stronger.

No where is this truer than my experience over the past 23-plus years dealing with the Ministry of Transportation (MTO). Transportation was once considered a sleeper ministry, one that got things done, and wasn’t overrun with bureaucracy. Now, it’s considered a sleepy ministry because it’s hard to get anything done, and frankly the red tape is getting out of control, not only to get anything done but also to get a straight answer.

Locally, Haldimand County is where the most transportation issues exist, and most of those are centred around Highway 6 north of Jarvis.

Haldibrook Road is one such example. The intersection of this road dividing Haldimand County and Wentworth and Highway 6 has been the scene of several serious car collisions, and more than one fatality. There has been a push from area residents, Haldimand County and me to have stoplights installed.

I first wrote former transportation minister Caroline Mulroney about the issue in November 2022. I pointed to a Haldimand Press article written in 2020, stating there were 166 collisions and 10 deaths on Highway 6 in two years. Haldibrook Road isn’t the only problem area, but it’s the worst.

In my letter, I also shared the experience of an area resident who lives on Haldibrook Road and witnessses collisions at the intersection nearly every week. Sadly, this resident is fearful every time she makes a left hand turn from Haldibrook onto Highway 6.

Good news came in December 2022 that a stoplight would be installed at the intersection. Here we are more than a year later, there is no stoplight up and it’s hard to get straight answers on timelines. I did recently learn the ministry is in the midst of writing the terms of reference for an environmental assessment and preliminary design for the intersection reconfiguration associated with the stoplight. The ministry also said reconstruction will accommodate growth for the next 20 years. The design process will evaluate the different alternatives for what it says will be “extensive modifications” to the intersection.

Of course, no discussion on Highway 6 is complete without mentioning the Argyle Street bridge reconstruction, or lack thereof. This reconstruction is two decades overdue. Since being elected, this is the issue I have raised the most times in the Ontario Legislature, asking two ministers of transportation about it on five occasions. Design work is complete and I have yet to get an answer as to what the holdup is but assure you my foot remains on the gas pedal.

I was successful in having repairs completed at the Highway 6 railroad tracks near Garnet.

Norfolk isn’t immune from MTO issues either. My office was contacted after there were several serious incidents in front of my alma mater, Delhi District Secondary School. I found out the crosswalk is actually owned by the county. I did reach out to MTO and they committed to working with the county to provide assistance where possible.

Before leaving MTO bureaucratic headaches, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the complicated web that highway entrance permits are for residents, farms and businesses along the highway. MTO is trying to limit highway accesses at the same time the provincial government is pushing building more homes and eliminating any situations where a property has a circular drive and two entrances. There is a need for scrutiny, but the present system has gone far beyond that.

All of the bureaucracy in MTO makes me yearn for the days when red tape didn’t create a maze across the province’s highways.

Bobbi Ann Brady is the MPP for Haldimand-Norfolk.