LIFE IS A HIGHWAY
Heavy machinery rolls in along Highway 3 at Victoria Avenue Thursday where work has begun to expand the highway from two lanes to four.
A long-awaited widening of Highway 3 is underway on a 7.9-kilometre section located in the Town of Essex.
Coco Paving has begun work on expanding a section of the provincial highway to four lanes from two, from just west of Ellis Side Road to two kilometres east of Essex County Road 23, otherwise known as Arner Townline Road.
The multi-year construction project includes three contracts and will see key improvements to the busy Essex County thoroughfare, including two additional driving lanes, two new overpasses, removal of access at Victoria Avenue, partial closure of Ellis Sideroad, drainage improvements, installation of a multi-use trail north of the highway and (re)construction of sidewalks.
A design and construction report, to document the scope of work, potential impacts and mitigation measures for each construction contract, is available for 30-day public review prior to commencement of work. Review of Phase 2 is open to the public until April 26, on the project's website at www.hwy3.ca.
The first design and construction report was completed and published over the winter. The third phase is expected to be completed during the summer.
The Ontario Ministry of Transportation project is building on previously completed design work documented in a transportation environmental study report which received approval in December 2016.
Highway 3 has earned a reputation as one of the region's more dangerous thoroughfares with increased traffic volume on its original two lanes.
Twinning the highway has been a project that Essex County residents and politicians have been requesting for years.
In August of 2019, the provincial government announced it would finally widen the notoriously hazardous zone on Highway 3 after decades of car crashes and carnage.
Premier Doug Ford had made a campaign promise the previous year that he would “immediately” address the problem if elected.
But a provincial announcement in March 2019 of $1.3 billion for 123 projects to “rebuild and restore” highways across Ontario failed to include Highway 3.
The biggest chunk of spending was earmarked for Central Ontario, including the Greater Toronto Area, where the province vowed to spend $512 million on 20 highway projects.
Transportation Minister Caroline Mulroney then made an August 2019 announcement in Leamington, saying the highway would be widened to four lanes in segments, from the Town of Essex to “west of Leamington.”
In 2012, the Liberal government began twinning the highway on a short stretch from the outskirts of Windsor to County Road 8 in Essex, but the work stopped there.