Carnage Alley on Highway 401 in Chatham-Kent to get concrete medians, more lanes

The Ontario government said today that it would invest $67.8 million in installing concrete median barriers and new lanes on a stretch of highway from Tilbury to Merlin Road in Chatham-Kent known as "Carnage Alley."

Construction could start this year on the 401 from Tilbury to Merlin Road

Advocates have long called for concrete barriers on the 401 median between London and Tilbury. (Chris Ensing/CBC)

The Ontario government has announced it will spend $67.8 million to improve safety on part of Highway 401 known as "Carnage Alley."

The improvements include raising the number of lanes from four to six, installing concrete barriers on the median and a new storm sewer system on the highway between Tilbury and Merlin Road in Chatham-Kent. The changes are part of a larger project to install concrete barriers on the 401 from London to Tilbury. 

"By widening Highway 401 in Tilbury and installing concrete barriers, we are helping to keep our families safe on our roads while ensuring the safe movement of goods on our important trade corridor," said Transportation Minister Caroline Mulroney in a news release. 

The Progressive Conservatives previously committed to the project in February 2018, but at the time hadn't set aside any money and said it first needed to do an environmental assessment on the impact of the road widening.

The section of Highway 401 between London and Tilbury has become infamous as it has been the site of numerous serious collisions in the past few years. Safety advocates have made repeated calls for the government to install concrete barriers. The government estimates that an average of 23,300 vehicles travel on that part of the 401 every day. 

"Everyone in our community knows how vital Highway 401 is to the success of Southwestern Ontario," said Elgin-Middlesex-London MPP Jeff Yurek in a statement. 

The province installed cable barriers on the median on parts of the 401 between London and Tilbury in  2018. CBC reported in February of this year that since they were installed, 68 collisions involving the cable barriers have cost the province $182,000.

On Monday, the government also announced that Coco Paving Inc. of Toronto has been chosen to build the new highway infrastructure. 

The government added construction could begin as early as this year.


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