The forgotten corridor

June 9, 2017   ·   0 Comments

EVEN BEFORE CONFEDERATION, the Toronto Board of Trade was plumping for creation of a new transportation corridor linking the city with the prosperous farmlands of Bruce and Grey counties.

Back then, they were strong supporters of the proposed Toronto, Grey & Bruce Railway, despite the fact its promoters were envisioning a narrow-gauge line that would be less costly than a standard-gauge one. (A glance at this week’s Dipping Into the Past will disclose the fact that John Foley, founder of the Orangeville Sun, was an avid supporter of railways but an opponent of the narrow gauge.)

Well, the railway did get built and was fairly quickly converted to standard gauge.

One hundred years ago, similar agitation was surfacing in the area of road transportation, and in the 1920s Highway 10 was among the first created by the new Ontario Department of Public Highways. Although initially the route was gravel, paving started in 1923 from both Port Credit and Owen Sound – initially with asphalt, but later with concrete north of Forks of the Credit Road.

Widening of the roadway to four lanes commenced in the 1960s, and more recently the southerly part of the corridor became Highway 410, which is currently being widened to 10 lanes.

Fifty years ago, Rev. A. W. Downer launched a campaign with his own Progressive Conservative government to build a bypass around Orangeville, and that was finally accomplished in the early 1970s.

Today, that bypass is a busy four-lane route and the five-lane highway between Orangeville and Caledon Village is being resurfaced less than 10 years after it was widened – if nothing else, a recognition of the corridor’s increasing importance.

However, that recognition evaporates once you reach the hamlet of Camilla. North of there, the only significant improvements in the roadway since 1930 are a passing lane at Elba Hill and a long-ago widening to four lanes between Primrose and Shelburne where the road is shared with Highway 89..

We hope that some day we shall get an explanation from Queen’s Park as to why the busy corridor, which no longer has a railway north of Orangeville to share the freight loads, has the same two lanes provided in the 1920s between Camilla and Primrose and from Shelburne to Owen Sound.

All we know is that the corridor’s importance is not recognized in London, Ont., where the Transportation ministry’s West Region offices are situated. With no familiarity with our area, the MTO officials respond to all requests for improvements by claiming they are “not warranted.”

It would be interesting, indeed, to see an explanation of why a corridor that soon will have 10 lanes for traffic in Brampton, five lanes as far north as Orangeville and four through to Camilla, has no need of widening in the foreseeable future, let alone a bypass to deal with the frequent traffic gridlocks in Shelburne.

Unfortunately, we don’t have a situation similar to that 50 years ago, since our current MPP, Sylvia Jones, isn’t a member of the government and thus capable of embarrassing the  current administration. And perhaps it’s also unfortunate that Dufferin County, the Town of Mono and Amaranth Township have taken pressure off Highway 10 by providing two alternate paved routes between Shelburne and Orangeville in County 11 and the Mono-Amaranth Townline.

Perhaps the best hope for some action from Queen’s Park would lie in a meeting of the county councils of Dufferin Bruce and Grey to organize a campaign pointing out the growing importance of the corridor, not just for the local trade and commerce, but also as an alternative for Torontonians who find Muskoka cottages out of their price ranges and weekend traffic on Highways 400 and 11 a nightmare.

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