Temiskaming-area group pushes for pilot highway safety project

A group of concerned citizens from the Temiskaming-area hopes an idea from Sweden will improve safety along Highway 11.

Answer from province expected in January, group says

In Sweden, the 2+1 model physically separates vehicles driving in opposite directions without having to twin the highway. A group wants to try a pilot project using a similar model on Highway 11. (Google Streetview)

A group of concerned citizens from the Temiskaming-area hopes an idea from Sweden will improve safety along Highway 11.

The Going the Extra Mile for Safety, or GEMS committee has pitched a pilot project to be implemented between North Bay and Cochrane.

There have been a number of serious and fatal crashes along that highway in recent years.

Helene Culhane, chair of the group, says they want to see a 25 kilometre stretch changed to a 2+1 model.

That model consists of two lanes in one direction on one side of the highway, and one lane in the other direction separated by a median cable barrier.

Culhane says that would switch every three to five kilometres.

"You know another one is coming, but the ideal thing is it's divided," she said.

"So if you're on the one lane side you have a barrier so you can't pass, even if you want to."

Since the system was implemented in Sweden about 20 years ago, the group says fatalities have been reduced in that country by more than 70 per cent.

"It's going to prevent you from going across the road to let's say a rock cut," she said.

Helene Culhane is chair of the Going the Extra Mile for Safety group. (Supplied/Helene Culhane)

"There would be more fender benders type things because you would scrape along the barriers but I would rather see fender benders than a head on collision or fatality."

The group acknowledges maintenance costs are higher with the 2+1 model, but add those costs are "significantly lower" than building a four-lane divided highway.

It has pitched the idea to the Ministry of Transportation and is expected to have an answer in January.

With files from Angela Gemmill


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