No need for speed: Chelsea to reduce Hwy 105 speed
Following the heart-rending death of a well-loved Chelsea man, municipal councillors have agreed to lower the speed limit along Hwy 105 within its boundaries — from 70 km/h to 50 km/h.
Council approved the resolution at its May 2 meeting and also approved additional recommendations for road safety measures on Hwy 105, such as installing stop signs at intersections and speed radars along the road.
The recommendations will be reviewed by Chelsea’s director general, Me Sheena Ngalle Miano, and brought to a public works and active mobility joint committee, before being fully approved and implemented, according to Mayor Pierre Guénard.
Tragedy struck in broad daylight this past March on Hwy 105, as beloved family-man, brilliant nuclear-physicist and friendly community member Emilian Dragulescu, 74, was hit and killed while walking his dog, Shadow.
Dragulescu and Shadow’s deaths sparked outcry from the Chelsea community, highlighting concerns with road safety on Hwy 105 and a call-to-action to implement measures to protect vulnerable users.
Sparked by the tragic accident in March, a petition urged the government and Chelsea council to universally lower the speed limit on the highway. It received 389 signatures before being closed.
Dragulescu’s daughter Liliana told the Low Down that, while she and her family still have questions surrounding their father and grandfather’s tragic death, she takes comfort knowing that Hwy 105 will become safer for other pedestrians and motorists. She wondered why the speed on the highway hadn’t been reduced earlier, since the bigger Hwy 5 expansion was completed in 2014.
“It takes one family's tragedy to improve, protect the lives of other families," Liliana said, adding that she finds 70 km/hr absurd given that at least one portion of the highway has four houses with 11 children and a few elders living on it.
Over time, Hwy 105 has transitioned from a highway to a residential road, and with it, the road’s dynamics have changed as well, according to several Chelsea councillors.
“We’ve known for years that Hwy 105 is no longer a highway, since Hwy 5 extended to Wakefield. The 105 is a community road connecting hamlets and households, and providing a space for Chelsea residents to walk from neighbours or nearby friends' homes and back,” said Ward 4 Coun. Christopher Blais in a council meeting on May 2, while presenting an amendment including recommendations for road safety on Hwy 105.
“This is not a place for cars and trucks to speed by over 70 km/h. This is a road for all users,” Blais continued. “Speed reduction has an impact on vulnerable user safety, and the only cost to residents today is a maximum three minute drive time delay if you exit on [Chemin] Scott and drive past [Chemin] Burnett,” said Blais.
“That’s what we’re asking for; is an additional three minutes to save a life,” added Blais.
The municipality will also consult with outside firms: MRC des Collines-de-l'Outaouais Police and the MOBI-O, Outaouais Travel Management Centre, prior to making changes to traffic measures on Hwy 105.
Council is asking Quebec’s Ministry of Transportation to lower the speed limit on Hwy 105
beyond the municipality’s jurisdiction from North along La Pêche and Wakefield to South along Gatineau.
As well, the municipality advised consulting with the Gatineau Valley Historical Society and Chelsea residents to rename Hwy 105.