Mark Clairmont | MuskokaTODAY.com
PORT SYDNEY — Last fall the province said it was assessing all Hwy. 11 at-grade road crossings between Bracebridge and Huntsville, of which there are about half a dozen.
Last month they closed the most controversial one at South Mary Lake Road, the first northbound entrance to Port Sydney.
On the other side of the highway is Stephenson Road 4.
It’s been a fatal intersection, where most recently a woman, 41, from Sudbury died.
Between 2007 and 2017 there were 21 other accidents, according to Judy Vanderveer, who led a petition calling for the closure.
The former Gravenhurst rec department worker was injured there in 2015.
The crossover is closed, but northbound and southbound traffic can still exit right onto those roads.
New metal road barriers, yellow reflectors and signage mark the changes at the high volume intersection.
However, if you live along or off South Mary Lake Road toward the downtown, and you want to get on the highway, you’ll have to travel a few kilometres north to get back on at District Road 10.
It may be the first of similar changes at other crossovers along the same stretch of road, which are arguably more dangerous from a sightline perspective.
The half dozen or so north and south may be less travelled, but are equally deserving of attention.
The High Falls crossing over the Muskoka River in Bracebridge is a case in point where a service road was once considered.
Further south, in Gravenhurst, a crossing at Gull Lake has also been fatal and a flyover and service road were also once planned.
The Port Sydney crossing is a long, clear stretch of road that shouldn’t have been a problem.
Why, over the years, the Ministry of Transportation did not put up more signage, flashing lights or other hazardous warning alerts is a failure the families of accident victims will to live with.
Drivers could have been warned to be aware of a dangerous crossing and saved lives.
Where was MPP Norm Miller before March?
Admittedly, nervous drivers could have used the alternative entrance at the north, which also goes west to Utterson.
Most who risked crossing at South Mary Lake did it safely for decades.
Now, the precedent has been set for all other roads.
With bridge repairs work all over the province taxing budgets, a simple solution is more lit signage if safe traffic control and management of flow is the goal.
Hwy. 11 southbound at South Mary Lake Road and Stephenson Road 4.
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