The provincial budget has been passed down, and The long awaited Highway 7 improvements from Guelph to Kitchener have been announced. This will result in a new dedicated freeway, instead of an widening of the existing road. The route will start at the current northern Hanlon Expressway terminus, proceed north, turning 90 degrees and meandering west towards Wellington St and Highway 85.
The budget also announced funding for the Light Rail/Rapid Transit project in Waterloo Region.
While this is welcome news for commuters, this project is a long ways off. There will also be major delays in the construction of this new roadway, and in the meantime our roads will continue to fill up with vehicles.
The budget for the highway is currently about $300 million, and $100 million for light rail (provincial money only)
What comes to mind when thinking about these announcements:
a) Highway 8 into Kitchener is a mess. Therefore will divert much of their commuter and truck traffic to the Hanlon, which at present is still littered with Streetlights and can barely handle current traffic volumes. There is no announcement, but has been some discussion of improvements. When?
b) For 10% of the cost of the new highway, and in 1 to 2 years, GO Trains could be plying the rails between Kitchener and Toronto, providing an alternate means of transportation, and possibly reducing the need for as many lanes on the new “highway 7″.
Nonetheless, the timing of this announcement couldn’t be any better. It shows the commitment our government is showing towards the future growth and sustainability of this region. With luck, our politicians are also looking towards alternative transit options, specifically our underserviced and underfunded inter-city transit (commuter and otherwise). Time will tell what happens. Write your MP if you feel this is needed.