WALTHAM – At the council meeting February 4, a detailed report from the Ministry of Transportation (MTQ) was presented, explaining their refusal to reduce the speed limit between Thomas-Léfèbvre Road in Davidson and Waltham from 90 km to 80 km/h. Waltham had submitted two requests in 2019 with the second rejected early in January.
The request was made for two reasons: to allow ATVs to use the shoulder of Highway 148 to connect Waltham to the MRC Pontiac’s ATV trail network and to improve safety on P.E.I. Road, which intersects the highway on a corner with poor visibility.
According to Fern Roy, director general, the main reason for the MTQ’s refusal is because they only allow speed reductions for a distance of about 2.5 km
and this request was for over 10 km.
However, the MTQ cited other reasons based on results of a study of use between 2014 and 2018. Reasons included: a high volume of heavy vehicle traffic; the stretch meets characteristics of what should be a 90 km/h speed zone; and users are unlikely to obey a lower speed limit since the average in the area is 98 km/h.
The conclusion was that allowing ATVs on the shoulder of Highway 148 would impair road safety. However, the MTQ is studying the possibility of reducing the speed within the municipality’s village core.
Using the PPJ’s “over-width”?
Roy explained the municipality will ask the MRC Pontiac to apply for MTQ grants to construct another trail parallel to the PPJ between Davidson and Waltham.
Currently, ATVs can travel beyond Davidson and slightly closer to Waltham, by taking the Trout Lake Road until it intersects with the Black River Road; they then can go south, but can’t go further than the intersection with Hwy 148.
It’s about 2.5 km from that point to Waltham, but Roy doesn’t think the MTQ would approve a speed reduction in that stretch either.
“Travelling around by Trout Lake Road is longer and if something happened, there’s no cell service. Waltham is in a difficult position because on one side of us is the river and on the other is a mountain,” he added,
noting converting the PPJ to multi-use seems to be the only other option.
According to Roy, the MTQ seemed open to funding a trail adjacent to the PPJ during a meeting with the municipality on January 15, providing there is a barrier between the two trails.
Remo Pasteris, a spokesperson for Green-PPJ-Verte, a citizens’ committee formed to protect the PPJ, stated: “We are not opposed to ATVs accessing any community, but the reality is there is no “overwidth” to share, especially on that section of the trail;it also passes through private property. This comes up again and again, and it is simply not possible given the terrain. There’s not enough width for a double trail and government regulations in Quebec don’t allow “multi-use” trails. Waltham would be further ahead to make a revised request for the speed reduction from the Black River Road to the village, which is within the 2.5 km standard and will also solve the problem at P.E.I. Road. Other municipalities have done it; why can’t they?”