No “mixed pas­sing” plans for high­way

Vision (Canada) - - Actualite News - GREGG CHAM­BER­LAIN gregg.cham­ber­lain@eap.on.ca

When Coun­ty Road 17 sees its up­grade at last, it will be as a full-fled­ged four-lane high­way. Any plans for an a third-lane pas­sing se­tup are not on the dra­wing board.

More than a hun­dred re­si­dents of Cla­rence-Rockland spent Thurs­day eve­ning at the Cla­rence Creek Are­na mez­za­nine room lis­te­ning to the la­test pre­sen­ta­tion on the en­vi­ron­men­tal as­sess­ment stu­dy for the Coun­ty Road 17/High­way 174 up­grade. The April 23 pu­blic in­for­ma­tion ses­sion was one of th­ree sche­du­led for the end of the month, with se­pa­rate ga­the­rings ta­king place in Or­léans and Cum­ber­land ear­lier in the week.

One of the most frequent que­ries af­ter the for­mal pre­sen­ta­tion was the ti­me­line and po­ten­tial ex­pense for up­gra­ding the 17/174 connec­tor bet­ween Rockland and Or­léans.

“How much is it going to cost up?” as­ked one re­sident, ad­ding whe­ther four-la­ning might get pu­shed back to 2030 or la­ter. “And is it (pro­ject cost) going to take in­to ac­count in­fla­tion?”

Plan­ners for the Uni­ted Coun­ties of Pres­cott-Rus­sell, the Ci­ty of Ot­ta­wa, and the AE­CON consul­ting firm ex­plai­ned that the full four-lane op­tion for the connec­tor route bet­ween Rockland and Or­léans was the best of all pro­po­sals re­vie­wed. The high­way up­grade is still the sub­ject of an on­going en­vi­ron­men­tal as­sess­ment pro­cess (EAP) which is al­so tied in with one on the Ci­ty of Ot­ta­wa’s plans for an eas­tern ex­ten­sion of its plan­ned light-ra­pid tran­sit sys­tem (LRT) in­to Or­léans.

Den­nis Hop­per, an en­gi­nee­ring consul­tant wor­king on the LRT pro­ject, no­ted that the ex­ten­sion from Blair Road east to Or­léans has a bud­get es­ti­mate of $500 mil­lion, using 2013 dol­lar-va­lues. AE­CON re­pre­sen­ta­tive Va­le­rie McG­hirr, whose com­pa­ny is in­vol­ved in the 17/174 EAP, said that a rea­so­nable cost es­ti­mate for four-la­ning would be pos­sible once more de­tails were wor­ked out and confir­med on the de­si­gn plan. There were com­plaints in res­ponse about how long the pro­cess was ta­king.

“By the time it (four-la­ning) hap­pens, we will need six lanes,” one re­sident said.

Se­ve­ral in the au­dience al­so ques­tio­ned going with the more expensive four-lane op­tion, which would al­so take lon­ger to com­plete, and ar­gued that a chea­per th­ree-lane se­tup could be done qui­cker.

The th­ree-lane op­tion, which would fea­ture al­ter­na­ting times du­ring the day for using the third lane as an ex­tra com­mu­ter traf­fic route, is in use in Mon­tréal at the Cham­plain Bridge and in se­ve­ral other lo­ca­tions in Ca­na­da and the Uni­ted States. McG­hirr said the that op­tion was consi­de­red, re­vie­wed and then dis­car­ded as un­safe for hand­ling the com­mu­ter traf­fic bet­ween Rockland and Or­léans.

“This sec­tion of High­way 174 and Coun­ty Road 17 is not ap­pro­priate for a th­ree-lane (op­tion),” she said, ad­ding there are too ma­ny pri­vate dri­ve­way en­trances along the route, both along the Cum­ber­land vil­lage sec­tion and the ru­ral por­tion bet­ween Cum­ber­land and Rockland. “It is not a safe op­tion. The four-lane (op­tion) with a me­dian bar­rier is what is nee­ded.”

As part of the EAP re­view on the concept de­si­gn for the high­way route, consul­tants loo­ked at op­tions for ei­ther re­gu­lar si­gnal­con­trol­led in­ter­sec­tions or a li­mi­ted num­ber of roun­da­bouts for hand­ling four-way traf­fic at key points along the route, in­clu­ding the Cum­ber­land Fer­ry tur­noff at the Ca­me­ron Street in­ter­sec­tion with the high­way. The sum­ma­ry re­port no­ted that re­gu­lar si­gnal­con­trol­led in­ter­sec­tions re­quire less space to set up, are more conve­nient for pe­des­trian and bi­cycle traf­fic, and al­so present fe­wer pro­blems with snow re­mo­val and other main­te­nance needs for a ma­jor high­way th­rough route.

Ward 1 Coun. Jean-Marc La­londe ex­pres­sed con­cern about how much the pro­ject will cost if it keeps get­ting de­layed. He al­so sta­ted that both the Ci­ty of Cla­ren­ceRo­ck­land and the Ci­ty of Ot­ta­wa need to keep pres­sing the Queen’s Park to upload the route and re­de­si­gnate back to pro­vin­cial high­way sta­tus.

“The cost in 1989 for four-la­ning was $123 mil­lion,” La­londe said. “How much will it be in 2031? The so­lu­tion is we’ve got to get to­ge­ther, work as a team, and make sure To­ron­to (Queen’s Park) takes it back.”

Marc Cler­mont (right), pu­blic works di­rec­tor for the coun­ties, ans­wers ques­tions about fu­ture up­gra­ding of the high­way link bet­ween Rockland and Or­léans

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