Councillors in Chatham-Kent are calling on the provincial government to erect cement barriers through a deadly section of Highway 401 some residents call "carnage alley."

During Monday night's meeting, council voted in favour of a motion from Ward 2 Coun. Trevor Thompson to install cement barriers in the grassy median of the busy roadway.

Trevor Thompson, Chatham-Kent

Chatham-Kent Coun. Trevor Thompson said safety concerns along Highway 401 should be a concern across southwestern Ontario. (Municipality of Chatham-Kent)

"With the construction on the 401 things have got very, very bad this past summer with multiple fatal, and at the very least serious, collisions on the highway," he said. "It has been an urgent need for years, but trying to get the provincial government to listen has been a problem."

City staff are working on a petition with the help of MPP Rick Nicholls and plan on sending a letter to municipal officials across southwestern Ontario calling for them to be a "united voice" on the issue.

"I hope that the Provincial Government will respond immediately, and install the median barrier," wrote Nicholls in a media release.

The stretch of highway through Chatham-Kent was broken up by several construction zones this summer and saw a spike in tractor-trailer collisions, prompting warnings from provincial police for drivers to slow down and pay attention.

Province plans to install cable barriers

Ontario Minister of Transportation Steven Del Duca said the provincial government "takes the safety of our highways very seriously" and plans to install high-tension cable barriers along the busy 50-km stretch between Tilbury and Victoria Road.

"High tension cable barrier systems are designed and crash tested to redirect or contain errant vehicles from crossing grass medians," said the minister. "These barriers should significantly reduce the potential for median crossover collisions in this corridor."

Issue affects all of southwestern Ontario

Thompson said concrete barriers "are the safest," but vehicles crossing the median are a major cause of serious accidents in the region so he'll take whatever he can get.

He's received calls about the dangerous section of highway from across the region and said he's hopeful the petition will help keep travellers safe.

"This just goes to show that this is an issue that affects all of Chatham-Kent and everyone in the southwestern Ontario corridor."