Transportation officials appear to be rethinking a plan to close the Glanworth Drive overpass at Highway 401 after three years of “intense dialogue,” says community activist Geoff Faul.
A delegation of farmers and businesspeople led by MPP Jeff Yurek (PC — Elgin-Middlesex- London) was offered a rare summer meeting with Queen’s Park bureaucrats to plead their case to keep the overpass open.
“There are stakeholders who have a very, very high investment in this,” Faul said.
He said he hopes it’s a significant detour from the province’s plan to redesign the Highway 401 interchange at Colonel Talbot Road, a move that would include closing an overpass bridge used by scores of slow-moving farm vehicles.
Area farms and businesses and local politicians have argued the proposal jeopardizes drivers’ safety and impedes agri-business by forcing large, slow vehicles to travel on high-speed, high-traffic roads or to detour by as much as 20 kilometres.
Monday, a delegation of about 10 people presented its case to the assistant deputy minister of transportation in an hour-long meeting.
The group included food processing powerhouses Bonduelle and Cargill, farmers and community representatives.
“We pointed out how the consultation process really failed the locals on this issue,” Yurek said.
Yurek said the meeting — taking place while the proposal is in an environmental assessment stage and during a summer break at the legislature — was “a good sign” that someone is listening to the argument that safety and rural economic priorities mean the design should change and the bridge remain open.
“We feel this might be the starting point of many ongoing discussions,” Yurek said.