This is the detour route most liked by the public. The red line denotes the detour. If you are travelling east on County Road 43, turn left onto County Road 9 (Loucks Road) follow 9 to County Road 7 turn right. Follow 7 through Chesterville to Main Street and continue on Main Street until you intersect with County Road 43 and turn left. Going west on County Road 43 turn right on Main Street, follow to 7, turn left on County Road 9 (Loucks Road) follow to County Road 43 and turn right. The final decision about the detour route will be made at the next SD&G council meeting on Mon., April 24. The meetings are streamed on YouTube.  Courtesy Photo

WINCHESTER – The United Counties of Stormont, Dundas, and Glengarry (SD&G) is getting ready to kick start work on the South Nation River Bridge outside of Chesterville.

Manager of infrastructure, Mike Jans and director of transportation services de Haan for the United Counties of Stormont, Dundas, and Glengarry, asked the council for their agreement on the counties’ proposed plans and safety measures at its April 14 council meeting.

The rehabilitation of the 51-year-old bridge, located on SDG 43 on the Chesterville bypass, will take five months to complete and will cause significant inconvenience to residents.

Councillors agreed to the plan for the detour around Chesterville, which was the one the public seemed to like most.

The bridge work is planned to take place over the 2023 construction season and because engineers have determined the bridge does not have the width or strength to use a staged construction strategy, which is having one lane open at a time as the work progresses, a decision was made to completely close off the bridge and make a detour around Chesterville, bypassing the bridge. A staged construction plan would take two construction seasons to complete.

Mayor Tony Fraser said, “This is akin to just tearing off the Band-Aid. It’s going to be five months of suffering, as opposed to two seasons, of five months of suffering.”

He suggested motorists and truck drivers in the region will find ways to get around the bridge closure.

The report presented to council stated: “Working with a full road closure will save taxpayers approximately $400,000 while adding very little to commute times and distances.”

A closure plan has been created by United County staff that includes traffic management and measures to minimize the impact as well as any safety concerns during the shutdown. SD&G staff estimated that around 2,800 cars cross the bridge on any given day.

A public information meeting was held in Chesterville on March 20 to seek input from residents and explain the project.

There were some concerns residents brought up at the meeting about safety concerns in their respective communities if more traffic was going to be going through them. The fire services were concerned its response time would be affected. Most residents indicated they would like to get the work over and done with, in a five-month closure. Most residents approved of the complete closure of the bridge if it saved money and shortened the period of inconvenience.

SD&G staff have come up with additional safety measures. They would institute a community safety zone during the closure. Reduce speeds to 40 km/h on County Road 7. Increase fines along the detour route and install Radar speed signs on SDG 7 during closure, increased coordination, and collaboration with OPP, and share speed sign data with the OPP. There would be daily inspections of detour signage.

Other traffic controls would be implemented as needed such as an SDG 9 speed limit review and no parking on SDG 7/Main St., changes to detour route(s) if warranted, no passing on SDG 9 between SDG 43 and SDG 7, and implementation of traffic camera to see if motorists are following the rules.