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Legislative assembly

“I want this section of highway to be secure”

MP calls for improvements to Highway 144 at Marina Road

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After a series of summer crashes – at least one serious enough to warrant Ornge’s air ambulance – Nickel Belt MPP France Gelinas has launched a petition to increase road safety along a perilous stretch of route 144.

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Speaking to the Ontario Legislature, Gelinas said residents of Levack, Onaping and Cartier, “as well as those using Highway 144 are concerned about the safety of a section of Highway 144 nearby. from Marina Road and would like to prevent further accidents and fatalities.

As she notes, there have been three serious collisions in the past month.

“Three other accidents occurred in the summer of 2021, resulting in serious injuries; diesel fuel flows into waterways; (and) the closure of Highway 144 for several hours, delaying traffic and blocking residents, ”Gelinas writes.

An Ornge air ambulance team responded to an accident on Highway 144 on August 29, but was unable to take the patient to hospital due to bad weather.  Facebook
An Ornge air ambulance team responded to an accident on Highway 144 on August 29, but was unable to take the patient to hospital due to bad weather. Facebook

On August 29, several volunteer firefighting teams, as well as a career post, responded to a collision on Route 144 in the area of ​​concern. It was a serious incident.

“At approximately 3:30 pm, volunteer positions from Levack and Dowling were dispatched in a serious one-vehicle collision on Highway 144 between Levack and Cartier. The Levack, Dowling and Cartier crews quickly stabilized the vehicle and began to free the driver, ”the volunteers wrote on their Facebook page. “Crews from Station 11 in Chelmsford have also arrived to help. It was a very difficult extrication that required a team effort between the fire department, EMS and the police.

“Two devices from Station 1 in downtown Sudbury also arrived to provide the additional equipment requested. The patient was eventually removed and transported by land ambulance to Health Sciences North. An Ornge air ambulance had landed on the scene but was unable to transport the patient due to stormy weather and lightning in the area.

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A collision on August 23 north of Windy Lake claimed the life of a Toronto-area man and a two-vehicle collision on July 31 sent four people to hospital, one with fatal injuries.

“We had three major accidents on the exact same corner of Route 144 near Marina Road,” Gelinas said on Wednesday. “In one of them, an oil tanker spilled hundreds of liters of diesel into the small stream that flows into the river (Onaping). In two of them, people were seriously injured and ended up in hospital. We have to do better. “

Although she acknowledges that the Ministry of Transport “has completed a review of this section of Highway 144, made some improvements and is committed to reassessing and ensuring the safety of the road,” Gelinas said Wednesday that these efforts fail.

“We, the undersigned, call on the Legislative Assembly of Ontario that the Ministry of Transportation immediately review Highway 144 at Marina Road and commit to making it safe, as soon as possible and no later than December 2021,” wrote Gelinas.

As the road plunges and curves between Dowling and Old Cartier Road, the section between High Falls and the Windy Lake Motel is particularly curved – and dangerous, Gelinas says.

“I don’t want to wait for a fatal accident before someone does anything,” she said. “I want this section of highway to be secure.”

A protest earlier this month, organized by locals, aimed to raise awareness about the dangerous intersection of 144 and Marina Road. According to MTO, there were five crashes from August 2019 to August 2021 (residents told The Star the ministry was underreporting its numbers).

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Gelinas said residents were nervous about this stretch of highway. She said the collisions that close Route 144 also block residents and can have serious consequences.

Aaron Dro, a resident of Dowling, has been a commercial driver for almost two decades. He saw no problem with the S-curve of Route 144.

“I have been a commercial driver for 18 years and in my opinion this turn is completely safe,” Dro said Wednesday. “If you have a fully loaded platform going down the hill that goes way over the speed limit, an accident is going to happen; no matter where or in what corner you are. If these drivers slowed down, because it’s a 40 km / h zone, there wouldn’t have been any accidents.

But Gelinas remains fearless. Although she admits her expertise is in politics, not engineering, she has been told visibility is an issue due to rock cuts and sharp angles. In addition, there is a slope that causes problems, as well as a railway line.

“Three major accidents in four weeks is not OK,” Gelinas said. “The children are going back to school in a few weeks. There are children waiting for the school bus at the corner of 144 and Marina Road and at the next corner. I don’t wish any harm on anyone, but it doesn’t take a lot of imagination to realize that if an accident happens in the morning, there will be children waiting for the school bus.

Nickel belt MPP France Gelinas
Nickel belt MPP France Gelinas John Lappa / Sudbury Star

Gelinas said she has no plans to abandon the issue and wants corrective action taken as soon as possible.

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“Do the work that needs to be done to make this section of Route 144 safe, as it is not currently,” she said. “It’s doable and doable, we just need the political will. Why don’t we do it now? Why do we have to wait until there is a death before motivating them to make this section safe? We all know it’s not sure; do not wait any longer.

Gelinas said she plans to raise the petition and the issue daily at Queen’s Park. She is not afraid of becoming a thorn in the side of Caroline Mulroney, the Minister of Transport. In fact, she can’t wait to remind her colleagues how dangerous the roads in the North can be.

“I want the Minister of Transport to hear about it every day, until she is fed up with hearing about it and does something about it,” Gelinas said with a laugh. “A petition requires a written response from the minister within 20 sitting days. Every day she will have to write me a letter in response to the petition and I will not give up until I do.

“In my job, things don’t move quickly but I don’t give up easily. I will not give up until this is done. We cannot leave it that way; it’s too dangerous.”

To sign the petition, go to francegelinas.ca (click on the petitions tab) or consult its Facebook page. Gelinas also has hard copies available for distribution. She has copies at her Hanmer Valley Mall office on Municipal Road 80 and has circulated hard copies in the Dowling / Onaping areas.

For questions or comments, she asks affected residents to contact her at 705-969-3621 or [email protected]

[email protected]

Twitter: @marykkeown

Facebook: @mkkeown

705 674 5271 ext. 505235

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Jacob C.

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