Chatham town hall continues push to ‘Build the Barrier’ along Hwy 401 stretch dubbed ‘Carnage Alley’

Highway 401 in Southwestern Ontario. The Canadian Press Images/Stephen C. Host.
Highway 401 in Southwestern Ontario. The Canadian Press Images/Stephen C. Host. Stephen C. Host / Canadian Press

A town hall is being held Thursday night to organize and update supporters as the push for a concrete median between London and Tilbury gains momentum.

READ MORE: Mother-daughter Hwy. 401 crash victims remembered for ‘flare of a Broadway star’

The ‘Build the Barrier’ town hall will be held at 7 p.m. Thursday evening at the Active Lifestyle Centre in Chatham and is hosted by Chatham-Kent-Essex MPP Rick Nicholls.

Alysson Storey’s friend, Sarah, and her five-year-old daughter Freya Payne were killed in a preventable crossover crash in late August on the 401 near Dutton, prompting her to help start a petition calling on the Ministry of Transportation (MTO) to build a concrete barrier.

Nicholls presented the petition, with 4000 signatures, to Queen’s Park in early October. Storey says since then, the MTO has said it planned to install cable barriers and then later said it was still looking at options.

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“We don’t want the cheaper option, we want the safer option,” said Storey.

“Cable barriers are cheaper to install in the short-term, however… they’re actually way more expensive in the long-term because each time a car hits it, it has to be repaired. Sometimes those cable barriers can go for days, if not weeks, before they get repaired. As well, when you hit them, the posts that are holding them to the ground become projectiles in the oncoming lane.”

So far this year, five people have died in crashes on Highway 401 between Tilbury and London, which has been dubbed Carnage Alley.

READ MORE: Median set to be built on highway between Lake Country and Vernon

“I have no doubt that my friend Sarah and her five-year-old daughter would be alive today if that barrier was in place. That’s the story for many fatalities here, many injuries, all sorts of collisions.”

Storey added that she’s most frustrated by the fact that there is an obvious answer to what is a life-or-death matter.

“The safest option is in place from Windsor to Tilbury, there’s a huge 116 km gap between Tilbury and London, the median starts back up again in London and goes almost all the way to Kingston. There’s really no excuse why this gap between Tilbury and London is still so dangerous. They know the solution, they need to put it in place.”

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In addition to Thursday’s town hall, Storey is also urging residents to spread the word by either joining the Build the Barrier Facebook page, tweeting #buildthebarrier, or contacting the Minister of Transportation.