Right and wrong roads for trucks

January 25, 2024   ·   0 Comments

By Constance Scrafield

Without any trouble, you can picture a stormy winter’s night. Most of us, I dare to bet, have found ourselves caught later than we meant, driving on suddenly treacherous, icy, sloppy, dark roads, fraught with dangers and traps. They lose their familiarity, with turns and lights creating shapes and shadows. Other traffic throws muck on our windscreens and shovels the heavy surface under our own tires, adding to our slip and possible slide.

The beautiful Airport Road between Highway 9 and the flashing light marking the intersection at Hockley Road, at the bottom of three descents along that particular stretch, demands caution at any time of year. There is a little bit of a level, short stretch, but very short, at the top of the relatively steep and final decline to Hockley Road’s flashing light.

My late husband, Colin, was a driving genius in all kinds of weather. Nine years since his dying, as though he is sitting beside me on the passenger seat, I can still hear him instructing me very quietly while I pass through a stretch of road that is challenging.

One really crummy winter’s night, as we were heading north for the Hockley Road down the Airport Road, there would be no tolerance for sudden stopping. Any sudden action at all would read disaster, and Colin “the Competent” knew to the inch how to handle the conditions.

As we came down the second descent to the platform, two cars were stopped in the middle of the road, and one of the drivers was standing at the window of the other, apparently conferring about what to do. Colin managed to bring us to a tender halt, but coming behind us, a large transport truck began its way down, blasting its horn. We were very well aware it was not going to be able to stop, and the best Colin could do was to squeeze over to the shoulder.

The truck driver had a single option, and he took it. He pulled over into the southbound lane, wailing on his horn at the incredible recklessness of the situation and charged by in a storm of snow and ice, which the truck washed over us. That driver knew he had to keep up his momentum to successfully climb the hills yet to come. Pretty quickly the two cars moved down the rest of the way and turned toward Orangeville and away.

That is a number of years ago, but it brought clearly to me how very much the Airport Road is simply not suitable for large truck traffic.

There have been attempts to stem the flow of heavy trucks by the Ontario government over the years, posting signs that prohibit the passage of large trucks of certain sizes, but the problem is how to police the offenders.

Spurning the truck-purpose highways, numbers 10 and 50, truckers take the Airport Road seemingly to save time. The never-ending construction on Hwy 10 and, maybe, going east, the inconvenience of having to circumvent Alliston by the ring road, long since built, to Highway 89 is considered too time-consuming.

The same sort of ring roads lead trucks around Orangeville and Bolton and they are all wide enough to serve; safe for the towns and, best of all, they are mainly quite flat.

Even the hills just south of Caledon Village on Hwy 10 are wide and well-maintained.

Every convenience has been covered for large and heavy trucks to have the best venues for travel from the 427 and the 410 all the way to Hwy 89, which leads to Hwy 11 and north.

This is why there is no need, no excuse for Highway 413 and no excuse to allow truck traffic on Airport Road.

A person I spoke to this week, whose business has him driving up and down Airport Road to Creemore regularly, told me he has been stuck behind trucks creeping up those hills at 10 Kilometres per hour.

I was very happy to read in last week’s Citizen that the Mayor of Mono, John Creelman, has begun to press the Ontario government to “recognize a road safety emergency on the province’s [roads],” suggesting that the recognition and possible repairs can be paid for by diverting a portion of the massive spending on advertising lotteries and other gambling by the OLG and collecting old traffic fines.

Obviously, the traffic on the Airport Road will be on his list. To widen Airport Road would be very difficult and not necessary. It is a country road that adequately deals with the traffic that is expected to travel on it. It was never meant as a race track nor to convenience corporations to transport their goods.

Never meant as a road for the competition of who can pass who up and down those hills; was not meant for the dare-and-do of some motorcyclists.

Never meant to be dangerous.

It is meant to facilitate farmers, tourists, and people wanting to escape their increasingly ugly cities, for where there is nothing beautiful to look at in what we build, we yearn for the beauty of the country to ease our eyes and our minds.

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