Ontario Construction News staff writer
Ontario’s government has released its first draft plan to build a better transportation system that will connect individuals, families and businesses in southwestern Ontario.
“People in southwestern Ontario deserve access to a safe and reliable transportation network that gets them to where they need to go,” said MP Caroline Mulroney, minister of transportation. “Our plan for southwestern Ontario includes real, practical transportation improvements that will connect our cities, towns, villages and hamlets by improving our roads and highways, improving accessibility, and ensuring bus, rail and local transit services are as seamless as possible.”
The plan, Connecting the Southwest, contains more than 40 advancements and strategies.
Key Actions in Southwestern Ontario:
- Making Highway 401 safer between London and Tilbury by advancing work to widen and add a concrete barrier.
- Widening Highway 3 to four lanes from Essex to Leamington.
- Supporting the trucking industry by exploring opportunities to expand truck parking such as repurposing the former Truck Inspection Station on Highway 402.
- Establishing a task force in spring 2020 to work towards the integration and enhancement of public transit across the region.
- Improving public transit through the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program, such as committing more than $103 million in funding for 10 transit projects in London.
- Connecting people to services by providing $14.8 million in funding to municipalities to improve public transit through the Community Transportation Grant Program, like connecting seniors to health services in Grey County.
- Enhancing intercommunity rail by working with VIA Rail on the potential to offer train service jointly with GO Transit.
- Undertaking an airport activity and infrastructure survey to assess the role of airports in the region.
“People in southwestern Ontario deserve better transportation that gives them safe and reliable access to jobs, their family and friends and the region’s many tourist destinations,” said Jeff Yurek, Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks and MPP for Elgin-Middlesex-London.
“Our government will continue to put forward smart solutions that respect the value of southwestern Ontario to our province, to our economy and to our quality of life.”
The southwestern Ontario transportation plan marks the beginning of comprehensive regional transportation planning for the province, and will be informed by engagement with municipal leaders, Indigenous communities, community leaders, businesses, and transportation experts.
The province is also consulting the public to gather feedback and explore strategies to implement actions in the plan. Ontarians can participate by completing the online survey until March 17, 2020. Connecting the Southwest is a living document that will evolve throughout the consultations and as new and innovative technology advances.
“The draft Southwestern Plan contains many items to improve the efficiency of our industry, the safety of the motoring public and commercial drivers while bringing needed changes to commercial vehicle highway clearance,” said Stephen Laskowski, President of the Ontario Trucking Association. “Our industry, and by extension, the Province of Ontario will be more competitive through the execution of this effort.”
Ontario is developing regional plans that will help build a better transportation system to keep goods moving across the province, starting with southwestern Ontario. Regional planning is also underway for the Greater Golden Horseshoe, Northern and Eastern Ontario.
Southwestern Ontario is home to 1.6 million people in 88 municipalities, 10 First Nations communities and five Métis Community Councils. In this plan, the region extends from Essex County in the west, Norfolk County in the east and Bruce and Grey Counties in the north.
The province will establish a task force with municipalities and Indigenous communities that will look at better integrating rail, bus and local public transit across southwestern Ontario to provide people with a seamless travel experience.
Read the plan here.