Along Highway 69 you’ll see crosses marking the scenes of tragic death after tragic death. The crosses aren’t weathered, in some cases they are very new. Who knows, maybe the family of the trucker who died Thursday night will put one up as well to remember him and remind those driving that any wrong move on the highway has dire consequences.
In some cases bad weather was a factor, in others it was distracted driving or, in one case, a driver suffering a heart attack. In the majority of the deaths, vehicles crossed the yellow centre line into oncoming traffic.
Highway 69 has opposing traffic side-by-side with intermittent passing lanes, intersections with municipal roadways, and a speed limit of 90 km an hour.
The province announced the four-laning of the road between Barrie and Sudbury in 2002 to create Highway 400, with controlled access points, separated opposing traffic and a 100-km an hour speed limit. The change is to make the drive safer and improve the transporting of goods from Ontario to the west.
It was a project to be done in 10 years. The newest forecast sets the completion date at 2021 – a difference of nine years.
One has to wonder how many people have died in those years. Whatever the number is, it’s too many.
Yes, it is incumbent on drivers to stay in their lane, to obey speed limits and watch for dangers. It’s incumbent on the province to provide safe roadways, and Highway 69 has proven anything but safe.
With negotiations not yet settled for land use along the remaining Highway 69 corridor, 2021 is anything but a guarantee.
We can only hope that in 2021 we’ll be celebrating the completion of Highway 400 and not marking the death of another driver.