Editorial: Tip of the iceberg?

Is the emergency closure of County Road 4/Lakeshore Drive last week due to a sinkhole the tip of the iceberg? Is it wise for South Dundas to assume ownership of this counties road in the future?

Counties engineer, Ben de Haan said in an interview with The Leader that void where the sinkhole occurred probably existed for many years. He also said that there was no way of determining it had existed before the cold-in-place asphalt recycling machine broke through the road, short of x-raying the road.

This road is made up of former sections of Highway 2 from before the St. Lawrence-Seaway was built, along with sections built to connect the pieces. It was built in the mid-1950’s, with part of the road built along the former Rapide Plat canal. That canal was built in the 1840’s and enlarged in the 1890’s.

South Dundas council has already agreed to assume ownership of the road, downloading it to the municipality once upgrades are made including repaving. The planned transfer is in 2018.

The idea of the municipality owning and controlling the waterfront road is appealing at first. Once you start looking at the potential liabilities with owning this 1950’s-made county road however, the appeal is soon lost.

Given the cost of road maintenance, and that South Dundas already has over 200 kilometres of road to look after, why was council so eager to take this on?

This was one incident, a sinkhole, but speaks to a wider issue. How many unknowns are there with the road?

If another issue occurs, it is not like South Dundas can refuse to repair the road. It sees a high volume of traffic given the residential build up along the water. Given the density of houses, what kind of impact would another sinkhole have?

Would it be better to have that cost borne by the 65,000 residents of the county, or the 10,500 residents of South Dundas?

What council could learn from this sinkhole is that second thought is required before completing the transfer with the county.

It is understandable why the county could want to be rid of this liability. Is it one South Dundas needs or can afford?

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