The United Counties council, on Wednesday, voted to reduce the speed limit along Highway 17 between Tupper and Cameron Streets to 50 km/h from 70 km/h. The stretch of road runs in front of several busy Hawkesbury businesses.

It was Hawkesbury Mayor Jeanne Charlebois who pushed for immediate action to improve safety on the road, particularly at the intersection of Tupper Street and Highway 17, which has been the site of 29 accidents in the past five years, she said.

The change in speed limit is a band-aid; council agreed a better solution would be to install traffic lights at the intersection. That action can be approved at the earliest in a month, after the Public Works committee has met and made a recommendation.

After an accident at the corner of Tupper Street and Highway 17 in July, a girl had to be airlifted to hospital in Ottawa. (Photo Facebook/Camera de nuit)

After an accident at the corner of Tupper Street and Highway 17 in July, a girl had to be airlifted to hospital in Ottawa. (Photo Facebook/Camera de nuit)

Charlebois said she wanted something done immediately. “I don’t know what the problem is this morning, gentlemen,” she said, after it was suggested that the issue could wait until the next Committee of the Whole meeting on October 12. “The last accident that happened there were children involved.” She was referring to an accident in July at that location, when a nine-year-old girl had to be airlifted to Ottawa. Shortly after the accident, L’Orignal fire chief Richard Sincennes told The Review “our statistics show that we have a lot of accidents at that corner. I hope that one day they put in lights at that intersection.”

On Wednesday, Marc Clermont, public works director for the United Counties, said he has no objection to Charlebois’ suggestion. “I know it’s a dangerous corner,” he said. A study presented to the council last year recommended traffic lights at the intersection. He said reducing the speed limit might not be very effective – the current speed limit is 70 km/h but drivers still speed in at 100 or 110 km/h, he said. Counties CAO Stéphane Parisien agreed. “If there’s no one policing the actual speed limit, nothing’s going to happen,” he said.

The cost of installing traffic lights at the Tupper Street intersection would be between $200,000 and $225,000, half of which would be paid by the counties, with the remaining cost split between Champlain Township and Hawkesbury. The Nation Mayor Francois St-Amour, who is the president of the counties public works committee, said before approving the project, he wants confirmation from both municipalities that they will pay their share.