A group of Dowling residents say heavy traffic on Hwy. 144 is causing damage to their nearby homes.
“I just had my basement repaired three weeks ago,” Al Weiman, a Dowling resident, said.
“It cost me $14,000 (including landscaping outside). I had it done before in 1996. That cost me almost as much.”
The retired miner bought his house in 1966. But by 1990, he noticed the deterioration of the roadway, along with an increase in heavy truck traffic.
Trucks were getting much larger, with longer trailers. They have also been hauling two trailers behind them, increasing the strain on the roadway, he claimed. The road surface was affected and, as it deteriorated, it meant his house foundation was under more pressure from the traffic vibrations, Weiman claimed.
In 1996, he paid thousands to repair cracks in his basement walls and purchase new windows. His front door would pop open by itself, sometimes when he was away.
He found his neighbours had some of the same problems.
“I launched a petition, and had 64 homeowners sign on. All said they were having damage to their homes.”
Highway 144 in Dowling was improved in 1997, and this seemed to help reduce the vibrations affecting his home.
But recently, the truck traffic has escalated, and the damage to his basement walls and house is happening again, he said.
Weiman has complained to the Ontario Ministry of Transportation (MTO) and more recently contacted the mayor’s office to express his frustrations with the truck traffic. He said he has met with his city councillor, Claude Berthiaume, a number of times.
Claire Paquette, Weiman’s neighbour, said she took out a loan of $15,000 to pay for the cracking of her basement wall in 1996. Now, new damage is beginning.
“In two places the cracking of the walls has begun again on the east and west sides where the cracks appeared before,” she said. She said she can see through the crack on the east side of her basement wall.
Lorrie Scharf, who lives on Douglas Crescent behind Weiman, said when she first moved to her home 12 years ago, the dishes in her China cabinet would move when trucks went by. “About 10 years ago, they repaved the road,” Scharf said. “That helped.”
But in the last two years, she has noticed more trucks going by, and now the dishes in her China cabinet are rattling again.
“I counted 15 big trucks going by in about 10 minutes,” she said, referring to the time it took to do an interview with Northern Life. “That is a lot of trucks.”
Weiman said he would appreciate it if the province could compensate him and other homeowners who have suffered damages.
The Ontario Ministry of Transportation has launched a planning study for Hwy. 144 to improve traffic operations, Gordan Rennie, regional issues adviser, northeastern region, said.
A 27 km bypass is being considered from just south of Chelmsford to north of Dowling as an option. “The driving factor (behind the study) is the existing high volume of traffic through Chelmsford and Dowling,” Rennie said in an e-mail Aug. 18.
“Traffic volumes are also expected to increase in the future, including truck traffic from mining operations,” he said. “This could lead to safety concerns and further operational issues.”
But Carol Ann Coupal, a Dowling resident and former deputy mayor with the Onaping Falls Council for nine years, said a bypass could take 20 years to build and would affect businesses along the existing highway.
She said the road through Dowling needs work now to prevent damage to homes beside the highway.