MORRISTON – Local residents thought they were at the end of the tunnel with regards to the Morriston bypass in 2016 when the provincial government announced and promised to start constructing the bypass in 2019.
A global pandemic and two federal elections have come and gone since that promise, and still, no shovels have hit the ground.
William Knetsch, a local resident, took it upon himself to write a letter to the Premier and Minister of Transportation about the construction of the bypass.
“I’ve written countless letters over the last 15 years to the Minister of Transportation and other politicians about the bypass. Basically, in 2016, the provincial government finally committed to starting building this bypass in 2019,” said Knetsch in a phone interview.
“We were kind of put, I guess, in a sleep mode because we still don’t have the bypass. I feel like they’ve forgotten us which is unfair because they promised us.”
To date, the province has done environmental assessment studies for the bypass and the 2021 Ministry of Transportation’s (MTO) public information centre for the bypass draft designs. But locals simply want the government to keep its promise.
“We have been here for more than 20 years and we are sick of waiting for this bypass to be put in. How many more people have to die on this highway? I think this bypass has been put on the back burner for long enough," said local resident Helen Benjamin Ribble.
In his letter, Knetsch stated that other projects such as the controversial Bradford bypass and Highway 413, have become a priority, when they are not as heavily needed as the Morriston bypass, leaving many of the residents let down.
"I have written Ted Arnott, Caroline Mulroney, Doug Ford and the previous Minister of Transportation regarding the bypass, and the only timetable I have been able to get from any one of these sources is when the overpass at Highway 6 and Wellington county 34 will proceed.The final straw for me is hearing Ford talk about the Bradford bypass being expedited when it's not a high priority as our bypass," said Ian Burns.
The Highway 6 corridor is considered one of the busiest two-lane highways in Ontario, with an average daily traffic volume of 23,000 to 26,000 vehicles per day.
Countless deaths and accidents have occurred over the years.
“I’m quite frustrated that there’s been a phase in approach to implementing the Morriston bypass when it was committed by the previous liberal government in 2016,” said Puslinch Mayor James Seeley in a phone interview.
“We had a major coalition group consisting of major organizations, businesses and political groups and we’ve been advocating and lobbying for this bypass to begin construction. And now, it’s been delayed, delayed, delayed.”
Seeley noted that the City of Hamilton has recently connected with the coalition businesses to reaffirm their commitment to the bypass and 90 per cent of the businesses have confirmed their continued support in advocating for it.
“We’re planning on presenting this to the minister and the premier if necessary to show that businesses in Guelph, the county, Hamilton, Puslinch still have the desire to have this bypass built,” explained Seeley.
“We feel that our bypass has been put secondary to the Bradford bypass and highway 413. There’s a major need to get the traffic out of the Morriston area.”
The Morriston bypass coalition re-commitment will be discussed by Puslinch council at next week’s meeting.