The overpass at the intersection of Highways 17 and 34, near Hawkesbury, is scheduled to be replaced during the summer of 2019.

Work has already started in terms of planning and assessment, with fall of 2018 marking the official start of various construction work.

“The Ministry of Transportation has determined that both structures, one over the highway and one over the railroad, must be replaced,” said Marc Clermont, Director of Public Works for the United Counties of Prescott and Russell (UCPR).

The structure at the busy intersection Highway 34 was repaired a few years ago, but its design is still outdated and has been deemed unsafe by the Ministry.

Who will pay? The answer depends upon who is responsible for the intersection.

“The law states that, for an intersection where two roads belong to two different levels of authority, the highest level of authority takes responsibility. Highway 17 became the UCPR’s responsibility in 1998, but Highway 34 is a provincial road, so the intersection is the Province of Ontario’s responsibility.”

According to Clermont, this means that 100% of the costs will be paid by the province.

Concerning the involvement of the area’s governing bodies, Clermont stated that “the UCPR, the Town of Hawkesbury and Champlain Township are still involved and kept in the loop.”

For Hawkesbury, involvement in the project took a larger scale once the matter of the “detour” came into play. As of now, once the road closures begin in 2019, the expected route for diverted traffic will be along Tupper Street, Main Street and County Road 4.

No road closures are expected for 2018 and the area’s major tourist events are taken into consideration during scheduling.

A precise date is yet to come for the start of the new structure’s construction in 2019, but Clermont had some details on-hand regarding the considered process.

“At the last meeting, we learned that they planned on first building the new structure next to the existing one, then close the road and divert traffic. After that, they’ll remove the existing structure and replace it with the new. This approach shortens the duration of road closures.”

Road closures are expected to last three to four weeks.