An online petition to make Highway 138 safer has attracted almost 1,000 signatures in less than a week.

Maxville resident Caroline Guimond posted the petition Make Highway 138 safer! on the platform last week. A mother of four children, Guimond started the petition after witnessing multiple incidents and near misses on the highway while traveling from home to her job in Cornwall each day.

“I’m just seeing so many dangerous acts on the 138,” Guimond told The Review, describing a recent incident she witnessed involving a slow-moving school bus ahead of a line of cars. “A car ends up passing the cars, plus the bus, and in oncoming traffic was a transport – the passing car just barely missed the transport.”

“I thought, I’ve had enough of this – this is insane.”

Guimond, who moved to the region with her family from Sudbury in 2007, traveled to Ottawa for work until two years ago, when she accepted a position in Cornwall. For the first year she took an alternate route to work in order to avoid traveling on Highway 138. But rising gas prices forced her to reconsider that decision.

“I was actually taking the back roads, but then the price of gas started going up,” Guimond says. “I have to take the most direct route now so I’m not driving extra kilometres for no reason.”

Two of Guimond’s four children attend school in Casselman – traveling there by school bus on Highway 138 – and the recent incident concerned her enough that she wrote to Member of Provincial Parliament Jim McDonell, who forwarded the correspondence to the Ministry of Transportation. Guimond then decided to start the petition.

“The goal was really to see how much support there was out there for urgent action on this issue,” says Guimond, who was floored by response to the petition, which had gathered 970 signatures as of Monday, May 2.

Guimond’s petition notes that Highway 138 was constructed in the 1960s and connects two 400 series highways in Eastern Ontario. This 36-kilometre stretch of road consists of two single lanes, and crosses towns such as Monkland, St-Andrews, Bonville, and begins from Highway 401 at the northern border of Cornwall, continuing to meet Highway 417 at its end. It is primarily used for commuters who drive to Cornwall or head north-west to Ottawa for work and is also a major artery used by transports to access the border crossing to the United States in Cornwall. The posting calls on Ontario Minister of Transportation Caroline Mulroney to take steps to make the highway safer immediately.

“It’s been shared more than 300 times since it’s been posted, so it’s going to gain traction,” Guimond noted.

Multiple comments have been posted to the petition, including many from people who tell of relatives or friends who died on the roadway.

A study done by Stantec Consulting in 2016 made a number of recommendations for improving safety on the highway, including the addition of passing lanes at locations along the route. Guimond said only a handful of the recommendations have so far been implemented.

A number of respondents to the petition believe the only solution to the dangerous conditions on the roadway would be to expand it to four lanes. In a conversation with a representative from the Ministry of Transportation, Guimond was told the amount of traffic on Highway 138 did not justify a four-lane highway.

Guimond said she believes safety on Highway 138 must be improved through a multi-faceted approach, including improvements to the roadway and increased police enforcement to deal with dangerous drivers.