South Dundas Roundabout Project gets official nod
The Municipality of South Dundas Roundabout and Streetscaping Project officially kicked off with a sod-turning ceremony on July 22. Local dignitaries and project partners gathered in Morrisburg to mark the occasion. Pictured: United Counties of Stormont, Dundas, and Glengarry (SDG) infrastructure manager Mike Jans (left), Coco Paving’s Dan Byvelds, Stormont, Dundas, and South Glengarry (SDSG) MPP Jim McDonell, South Dundas Mayor Steven Byvelds, SDG warden Al Armstrong, SDSG MP Eric Duncan, and SDG transportation director Ben de Haan. Casselman Photo

Sandy Casselman
Record Staff

MORRISBURG – There were a host of dignitaries visiting the Municipality of South Dundas last Thursday to officially kickoff the already started Morrisburg roundabout project.

“I give a lot of credit to our previous council and [South Dundas economic development officer] Rob Hunter, without who we wouldn’t be here today,” Mayor Steven Byvelds said during the July 22 gathering. He also acknowledged the United Counties of Stormont, Dundas, and Glengarry (SDG), as well as the provincial and federal governments for their role in making this transformation possible.

Byvelds was joined by Stormont, Dundas, and South Glengarry (SDSG) MP Eric Duncan, SDSG MPP Jim McDonell, SDG warden Al Armstrong, Coco Paving’s Dan Byvelds, SDG transportation director Ben de Haan, and SDG infrastructure manager Mike Jans. Hunter said that although the project has already begun, he thought it would be good to gather everyone together for a sod-turning ceremony to celebrate the momentous occasion.

“This is one of the last major intersections to be retrofitted with a roundabout,” McDonell said.

While the roundabout is the project’s main feature, the work being done will transform more than just the cross section of County Road 31 and County Road 2. The project also includes a massive overhaul of a portion of County Road 2 located in the village itself. There will be new accessible sidewalks, lighting, as well as trees and other greenery to add to the new aesthetic.

De Haan said the project will not only transform the intersection, but it will give Morrisburg a “proper Main Street” and positively impact South Dundas as a whole. The $4.9 million project is being funded through money from the federal government ($1.5 million), the provincial government ($1.1 million), SDG ($1.9 million), and South Dundas ($400,000).

Duncan said his job is to make sure that communities in SDSG, like South Dundas, “get our fair share back for projects like this.” The project has taken roughly five years to get to this point, where shovels are in the ground and a major transformation is underway. The former traffic lights have already been removed. Duncan said he thinks residents and visitors alike “are going to be very impressed with what they see as a finished product.”

Coco Paving, the company contracted for the project, started the massive undertaking roughly a month ago. They are expected to be finished by the end of 2021. Hunter said he expects it to be done in November.

While most dignitaries agreed that the changes would improve Morrisburg’s look, there was also significant attention given to the expected benefits of a safer experience for drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians. All commented on the ability of roundabouts to decrease the chances of accidents at intersections. De Haan said the change will mean a “negligible chance of a severe accident at that intersection.”

In addition to lauding the safety benefits of roundabouts, Armstrong said the switch from traffic lights to a roundabout also means a better driving experience for both locals and tourists. He said the “continuous driving experience” will provide enjoyment to those travelling along “one of the most beautiful” scenic routes in Ontario.

With the gathered group in agreement about roundabouts and their ability to make roadways safer, each also took the time to recognize the importance of partnerships. It was noted by each that without the support of the others, the project would never have happened, or at the very least, as Byvelds said, it wouldn’t have been done right. He said it was the availability of significant funds that allowed SDG and South Dundas to explore several options before coming to a mutually agreeable design.

Byvelds said that with the roundabout slowing down traffic, drivers passing through will have the time to see that Morrisburg is a great place to stop, visit, and shop. Pointing toward the future and this time next year, Byvelds said the change will serve South Dundas well.

“The plan makes it safer and easier for pedestrians, while also encouraging traffic to stop in and support the local economy,” he said. “We’re excited to see the results of this investment.”