401 underpass work on MTO’s radar
The Ministry of Transportation has retained a Toronto-based firm to complete a Class Environmental Assessment (Class EA) and Design study for three infrastructure projects located along Highway 401 in South Glengarry.
According to a letter the township recently received from Dillon Consulting Ltd., the studies for the County Road 2/34 underpass replacement, as well as the replacement of two Raisin River bridges, will be completed as “Group B” projects, while the rehabilitation of the Finney Creek Culvert – located under the 401, east of the County Road 2/34 interchange – will be a “Group C” project.
According to the MTO, “Group B” initiatives are primarily highway improvements “that provide or cause a significant modification in traffic access,” and are “major improvements to existing provincial transportation facilities.”
“Group C” projects are partially described as “minor improvements to existing provincial transportation facilities...over land and water that provide minor or no increase in traffic capacity,” and include “drainage improvements that do not involve land or water bodies outside the ROW (right of way) and do not have major footprint impacts.”
Public consultation is required for “Group B” projects, but those classified as “Group C” are exempt, given that they are considered “minor” improvements, with “minimal and predictable environmental effects that are readily mitigated.”
The letter explains that the studies will identify the “most appropriate method to replace/rehabilitate the structures and will assess the impacts, including traffic management during construction, and impacts to the natural environment.”
The County Road 2/34 project involves replacement of the existing mid-1960s-era bridge, while maintaining the current number of traffic lanes.
There will be no traffic closures throughout the construction period, although overnight detours of 401 traffic are anticipated while the bridge itself is being demolished. Short-duration ramp closures are also likely. Replacement of the two 401 bridges spanning the Raisin River will require highway traffic to be restricted to one lane in each direction during construction.
As for the Finney Creek Culvert project, a separate study will assess and determine the extent of rehabilitation required and any other related impacts.
The letter from Dillon Consulting states that “public and agency consultation is an important component” of the EA and design process, that a public information forum will be held “once potential impacts and mitigation measures are further developed,” and that notification of such a meeting will be pub- lished in local newspapers.
No timetable has been released regarding potential starting construction dates for any of the projects. However, the MTO’s Southern Highways
Program 2015-2019 report includes both the County Road 2/34 and Raisin River bridges replacements on a page entitled ‘Eastern Ontario Rehabilitation 2018-2020.’
MTO-commissioned preliminary detail design and environmental assessment studies are currently underway for three other decades-old Highway 401 bridges in South Glengarry – in Bainsville (Third Line) Road, Curry Hill (Fourth Line) Road and Lancaster (Second Line/Westley Road), respectively.
For further information about the County Road 2/34, Raisin River bridges and Finney Creek Culvert projects, visit www.LancasterBridges.ca.
WORKING ON THE 401: This map, courtesy of Dillon Consulting Ltd., shows locations of three proposed MTO Highway 401 infrastructure projects in South Glengarry.