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Proposed 401 Widening - Halton to Hespeler

Post #7147
05-19-2010 04:06 PM

Transportation & Infrastructure Moderator
Date Feb 2010 Location Kitchener, Ontario Posts 288
"Only the insane have the strength enough to prosper. Only those that prosper may truly judge what is sane."
Proposed 401 Widening - Halton to Hespeler

Major expansion proposed for Highway 401

December 01, 2009

WATERLOO REGION — Highway 401 through Waterloo Region and Wellington County could look quite different if expansion proposals are adopted.

Picture an artery that’s between eight and 12 lanes wide, with a core and collector segment in the Highway 6 corridor and rebuilt overpasses from Hespeler Road to the Halton Region line.

It’s all part of a series of improvements proposed for a 26-kilometre stretch of the 401. Studies have determined the existing six-lane highway is quickly approaching its capacity.

Traffic forecasts predict that eight lanes will be required by 2016, with 10 lanes needed by 2031. And that’s taking into account the reduction in vehicles expected to accompany long-term GO Transit expansion.

“A diversion to transit slows your growth rate but doesn’t stop it,” said Ministry of Transportation project engineer Dan Leake.

High-occupancy vehicle lanes are also being considered to encourage carpooling.

The first of two public information sessions on 401 improvements was held Tuesday night at the Knights of Columbus Hall in Cambridge. The second takes place Thursday between 4 and 8 p.m. at the Puslinch Community Centre.

Specific project timelines or cost estimates haven’t been established yet.

“The construction of any large-scale project like this is always contingent on available funding,” Leake said.

The only existing overpass that can accommodate an expansion to 10 lanes is Townline Road, meaning all others would have to be rebuilt.

The ministry replaces any existing sidewalks or bicycle lanes when it rebuilds an overpass, Leake said. Any new sidewalks or bicycle lanes would have to be funded by the municipality.

The ministry is aware that Cambridge and Waterloo Region are reviewing crossing options for pedestrians and cyclists between Franklin Boulevard and Hespeler Road.

The issue returned to the headlines in October when a cyclist was killed near the Franklin Boulevard exit ramp.

The 401 expansion plans include a 12-lane core and collector stretch between Highway 6 north and south that would accommodate a bypassed Highway 6 around the village of Morriston, south of the 401.

“It will be there when we come along to do our project,” Leake said.

Once a preferred plan is selected, a second round of public information sessions will be held, likely next summer. From there, the public will have the chance to review a transportation study report before the project shifts into the property acquisition and detailed design phases.

Anyone interested in submitting comments or questions can do so until Jan. 8 at www.highway401-hespeler-halton.ca


Cambridge council wants fast action on Franklin Boulevard 401 interchange

December 01, 2009

CAMBRIDGE — Do something now to fix the deadly Franklin Boulevard interchange at Highway 401, city council told provincial roads officials Monday night.

Transportation ministry officials were at City Hall to give councillors an introduction to a study looking at widening the freeway to 10 lanes in Cambridge and up to 12 lanes west of Highway 6 at the Halton Region Boundary by 2031.

Instead, it was the dangers today at the 401 exit ramp to Franklin Boulevard that prompted most questions.

Coun. Rick Cowsill called for signs to warn exiting drivers to slow down, before any other pedestrians or cyclists are killed on Franklin Boulevard between the bridge and Pinebush Road.

“I don’t see the ministry doing very much. We can’t wait forever and ever,” he said.

“The problem is the ramp off the 401. People come off the ramp at one heck of a clip and they keep clipping all the way down Franklin.”

Signs won’t do much to slow drivers, ministry officials said. But there are other things — like road markings or changing the feel of the roadway” — that might slow them on the ramp.

Dan Leake, the ministry’s senior project engineer overseeing the highway study, promised to carry the city’s safety concerns to the officials who oversee the ramp.

The city and Waterloo Region are conducting their own Franklin Boulevard pedestrian bridge study, after the death of a pedestrian in 2001 and a cyclist in October at the exit ramp.

The preferred alternative is some kind of widening of the bridge to create a sidewalk, or a standalone bridge there. Mayor Doug Craig worried the city was “working at cross purposes” with the new ministry highway study, since any redevelopment of the interchange is likely a decade way.

The Ministry knows about the city-region study, but the issue will be timing, said Jim Dowell, a traffic planner overseeing the study.

Public comment on the Highway 401 widening study is invited tonight at a drop-in session at the Knights of Columbus Hall, 333 Speedsville Rd., Cambridge. Another information session is set for Thursday at the Puslinch Community Centre, 29 Brock Rd. S., in Aberfoyle. Doors open for both events at 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Final highway recommendations will be up for public review in 2010.

The ministry has already approved a plan to widen the 6-lane freeway to 10 lanes from Highway 8 to Hespeler Road. This study looks at improvements for another 26 kilometres west.

Traffic projections include the impact of proposed GO train service expansions to Kitchener and Cambridge over the next two decades, council was told.

Coun. Ben Tucci wondered if the millions of dollars needed to widen the freeway would be better spend on expanding the province’s public transit services.

“In my view, the expansion of highways is past tense and we should be looking at moving pedestrians out of cars into rail, GO transit or high speed rail."