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​Fix Highway 21 before it’s too late

March 30, 2023

To the Editor:

Note: The following is a letter sent to Ontario transportation minister Caroline Mulroney, and Huron-Bruce MPP Lisa Thompson

I live in Ripley, Bruce County, and work at the Bruce Energy Centre.

Since the train tracks in this area were removed, our roads are all that Bruce County has for transportation. And because the Ontario government has made Bruce Power the world's largest nuclear generating station, Highway 21 is an extremely busy and important highway.

The photos below are of Kincardine's Highway 21 bypass, 20 kilometres from Bruce Power. It's common for heavy rainfalls to cause wash-outs big enough to seriously damage a vehicle or break a horse's leg.

Fixing the wash-outs by filling them in with crushed stone and recycled asphalt and using a little fabric and some rip-rap as erosion control, is not working at all. If the wash-out gets under the asphalt, it’s going to cause all kinds of headaches and problems for a community that is already frustrated due to closed roads. A heavy rain storm could be enough to close an important part of Highway 21 as well.

From working on the wind turbines, I know much of southern Bruce County is sitting above at least 110 feet of clay. This amount of clay raises questions about the quality of our gravel pits. Too much clay will cause an aggregate base to erode.

Even though the bypass is built from very poor aggregates (in my opinion), the asphalt covering it is doing its job and protecting it extremely well, for now. But if it is allowed to go much longer, the asphalt will eventually get damaged from a wash-out.

Thank you,
Rick Orr

P.S.: Before moving home to Bruce County, I worked as a materials technician in London and British Columbia. My job was to test concrete, aggregates, asphalt and soils on projects which included the 400 series highways and the Bruce Township wind turbines. The purpose of these tests was to ensure the materials being used met specification, and that they were placed in a way that also met specification. Other duties included classifying soil samples during bore hole operations.

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