Recommended plan to relocate and reopen Talbot Trail in CK. (Map from Municipality of CK)

Talbot Trail to move and reopen, but not without controversy

A short-term plan to relocate and reopen a section of Talbot Trail has been approved by Chatham-Kent Council.

By a vote of 14-0 on Monday, councillors approved the interim plan to move forward with constructing a new two lane rural arterial road between Coatsworth Road and Stevenson Road, following 2nd Concession Line at a cost of $4 million.

The long-term solution is to build a new road from Ellerbeck Road to Stevenson Road, along the existing 2nd Concession Line. The work requires significant property acquisition, road improvements, and utility relocations, according to the municipality.

Chatham-Kent Manager of Engineering Mark McFadden told council the work is estimated to take 3-4 years to complete including acquiring the necessary land.

McFadden noted the realignment of Talbot Trail will have less impact on properties.

Talbot Trail has been closed from Coatsworth Road to Stevenson Road since July 2019 because of shoreline erosion and road failure due to the unstable bluff slope in the area.

McFadden told council the road will be moved northwest, away from the lake to protect it from erosion for a minimum of 30 years.

Some deputations told council moving the road is a waste of money and a band-aid solution to the erosion problem. Many had concerns about the erosion rate of one metre per year being used by the municipality, saying it's not accurate and the erosion rate is closer to three metres per year or more. They wanted the road protected from erosion for 100 years.

Judy Setchel lives within the road closure and said she has lost about 18 metres of land to bluff erosion since 2016.

"Your decision for the new bypass road may give straight access to the businesses that want to use a shorter route, but it does not consider the loss to the residents of this area. The bypass will fail, Talbot Trail will still need to be relocated, even if 10 years down the road. The $10 million to reconstruct 2nd Concession now will be substantially higher," she said.

McFadden said the erosion rates are only predictions based on historical data, but he considers them fair.

Others supported the decision of council.

Dr. John Mann, a professional engineer who also lives in the area of the road closure, said it's impossible to plan for 100 years into the future because nobody can predict what will happen in 100 years.

"Using the worst case numbers, the preferred alternative will be safe for at least 30 years, which is the design lifetime of highways in Ontario. Using the exiting data, we estimate that the route of the preferred alternative is safe for at least 50 years," said Mann.

Council is also asking the province for funding to relocate Talbot Trail because the road is a former provincial highway.

Property owners within the Environmental Assessment area will be notified when the study is complete and that the 30-day review period has started.

The municipality said the road improvements should start next year.

A copy of the finalized report will be published on the Talbot Trail Environmental Assessment Lets Talk page.

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