Kitchener: Hwy 8 Highway Expansion and Mussel Relocation Project

Discussion in 'Transportation & Infrastructure' started by unimaginative2, Jun 16, 2009.

  1. unimaginative2

    unimaginative2 Senior Member

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    Hwy 8 gets expansion funding

    June 16, 2009
    Frances Barrick
    RECORD STAFF

    KITCHENER

    Highway 8 commuters got good news yesterday: the federal and provincial governments have come through with $70 million to widen four kilometres of the congested highway over the Grand River in south Kitchener.

    The first phase of the work -- a $115,000 project to remove endangered mussels in the river -- could begin as soon as Saturday.

    Waterloo Region Chair Ken Seiling said yesterday that the targeted section of Highway 8 is "probably the most significant bottleneck in the region. . ."

    The project will not only improve traffic flow between Cambridge and Kitchener-Waterloo, Seiling said, but will also boost rapid transit travel with the widening of road shoulders so Grand River Transit buses can use them to bypass traffic jams.

    "This will have a huge, big impact for our region," he said.

    IMPROVEMENTS INCLUDE:

    Widening to eight lanes from four one kilometre north of the Grand River to the King Street East interchange.

    Widening to six lanes from four from the King Street East interchange south to Sportsworld Drive.

    Repaving from Sportsworld Drive interchange to Highway 401.

    Building a new twin bridge over the Grand River.

    Repairing existing Grand River bridge, King Street interchange bridges, and the Sportsworld Drive interchange bridges.

    Building bus bypass shoulders.

    Building a concrete median barrier.

    Installing highmast lighting.

    Yesterday's announcement of the project's cost-sharing was made by Gary Goodyear, Cambridge MP and Minister of State for Science and Technology, and Jim Bradley, Ontario's Minister of Transportation. The event was held on Sportsworld Drive in Kitchener.

    Each level of government will contribute a maximum of $35 million toward this project, which is the fourth and final phase of the Highway 8 improvements, Nichols said.

    Bot Construction of Oakville has been awarded the $57.8 million contract to do the road work which is slated to take four years to complete, said Bob Nichols, spokesperson for the Ontario Ministry of Transportation, which is overseeing the project.

    Other expenses bring the project's total cost to $70 million, he said. This is below the latest estimated cost of $84 million.

    The region has also agreed to spend up to $4.28 million to ease the problem of transit buses having to use detours to avoid stop-and-go traffic over the bridge. Shoulders normally three metres wide will be extended to 4.25 metres. Pavement will be thickened to support bus weight.

    Bypass shoulders are not regular driving lanes and buses will be allowed on them only when traffic is backed up, Seiling said.

    Commuters who travel Highway 8 during peak periods will certainly appreciate the road improvements, he said.

    These improvements include:

    Work is slated to begin later this month with the first task being the relocation of an endangered species of mussels at a cost of $115,000. Planners expect to find about 50 of these rare mollusks in the Grand River, where the new bridge will be built.

    By law, they must be removed before heavy construction crushes them. They will be relocated to safe waters about 30 metres upstream.

    Gerry Mackie, a retired University of Guelph professor who is overseeing the relocation of the mussels, said work could start Saturday, weather permitting. It could take 10 days to complete.

    The work involves eight divers and five searchers in shallow waters looking for these mussels, he said.

    fbarrick@therecord.com
     
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  2. waterloowarrior

    waterloowarrior Senior Member

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    the 401/8 interchange is also getting a makeover (undefined cost, over $100 million)... from Duke-of-Waterloo at SSP

     
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  3. nfitz

    nfitz Superstar

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    Ah, about time. That will finally eliminate the bottleneck on 8. Let's see, when did they start construction on the first phase ... 1994? Completion in 2013? Though I guess the phase starting in 2014 will be this new interchange, ... so perhaps we're looking more at 2017. And they've still got to widen 8 from Courtland westward to Homer Watson or Fischer Hallman ... I think that was part of the original 1994 plan (though this new interchange wasn't).
     
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2009
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  4. unimaginative2

    unimaginative2 Senior Member

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    Westward, but yeah you're absolutely right. That merge is way too quick around Courtland. They should add a lane at least past Bridgeport, too. The merge from four to two is so fast I've seen a lot of near-misses.
     
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  5. nfitz

    nfitz Superstar

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    Using Kitchener's bizarre road-directions, as it parallels Ottawa Street South, then it's southward! :)
     
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  6. unimaginative2

    unimaginative2 Senior Member

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    They are certainly confusing! You know you're talking to a real Kitchenerite when they refer to the East End as the King Street toward Rockway.
     
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  7. waterloowarrior

    waterloowarrior Senior Member

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  8. nfitz

    nfitz Superstar

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    Probably not until after 2013 now. The MTO was quite clear back in the 1990s, that the 7/8 and 8 widening would go one phase at a time. MTO wanted to start on 8, and then do 7/8; but Kitchener and Region pushed, and so they did the first chunk of 7 first and then started heading down 8. So now with Phase 4 starting in 2009, with completion in 2013, then they'd be unlikely to start Phase 5 until 2014, presuming that 7/8 is really next.

    Of course with the 8 from Sportsworld to 401 now added to the list, along with the 5-laning of 401 through Cambridge, and the 7 from 7/85 to 6, then perhaps they'll actually run 2 large expressway projects in Kitchener, rather than the 1 they have been doing pretty continously since the 1980s. (hmm, perhaps they have with the 401 widening to 3 lanes from 7 westwards ...
     
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  9. unimaginative2

    unimaginative2 Senior Member

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    Have they added the section south of Sportsworld to the list? The map in the Record seems to suggest that it's going to stay four lanes, though they're building all these westbound ramps the acceleration lanes will probably last all the way up to Sportsworld Drive. I'm guessing the Cambridge Bypass is completely off the table now? I guess it's replaced by the 424 around the east side.
     
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  10. nfitz

    nfitz Superstar

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    Post 2 above. MTO has been talking about this, and widening 401 for a few years now. Not sure it's actually on the list yet ... but I'm sure it will be 4 years from now when they choose the next project.

    The Cambridge bypass was officially cancelled (or at least downloaded) years ago, before there was any serious discussion about this new Brantford road. And the City of Cambridge and Region of Waterloo both removed it from their official plan.
     
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  11. DHLawrence85

    DHLawrence85 Active Member

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    Cambridge Bypass will never happen. They'd have to run it a long way around town or, like they originally planned, run it through a protected wetland. Neither option is likely.

    The 424 will likely not be a 400-series highway. Too many rural and suburban NIMBYs who think that we should run heavy-rail trains carting air between Hamilton and Cambridge. Great in theory, but it will be a decade or two before it's practical. In the meantime, we need some alternative to a two-lane 24.
     
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  12. dunkalunk

    dunkalunk Senior Member

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    I've also seen a lot of near-hits as well. :p

    On another note, as rapid transit would require a crossing of the Grand River, would it not be mutually beneficial for LRT ROW track to be built off to one side of the new bridge? Surely combining both in one structure would put less impact on the natural environment (you would only need to move mussels once, also, less pillars in the river), could potentially cost less (due to only building one structure, not needing to tear up a rail corridor, less property acquisition costs and physically shorter length of the route), and faster, more reliable service (again, shorter route in addition to less at-grade crossings)

    Something like this could work beautifully.

    Or, as usual, will it take an excessive amount of arm twisting on the part of Waterloo Region to get through the bureaucracy? Something like this could save the province a couple million dollars in construction costs (assuming they're footing 2/3 of the bill for this).

    Maybe its the psychological effect of having rapid transit vehicles pass a traffic jam and having drivers think that transit is not that bad of an idea. I mean, noone would willingly put themselves out of a well-paying job designing highways if they could avoid it...
     
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  13. unimaginative2

    unimaginative2 Senior Member

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    The reason I'm sympathetic to the idea of the 424 is that it would provide an all-expressway route to Hamilton, Niagara, and New York State. Right now, we have the choice of Highways 8 or 6. Highway 8 is direct, but it's very slow and would be impossible to widen, especially at the escarpment and through Dundas. Highway 6 could be fairly easily upgraded to 400-series standards, but it takes people a fair bit out of their way. Drivers on the 424 could go to Hamilton or take the Red Hill Creek (might as well make use of the travesty!) to Niagara. I'm as pro-rail as anybody, and I'd like to see trains between Hamilton and Kitchener, but I think it's pretty optimistic to think that they'll have a significant dent on traffic in the short term, especially since so much of it is longer distance trips to Niagara and the States.
     
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  14. nfitz

    nfitz Superstar

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    6 is slowly turning into an expressway ...

    ... very slowly ... perhaps by 2100!
     
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  15. DHLawrence85

    DHLawrence85 Active Member

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    Just connecting the Hanlon to the four-lane section south of Puslinch will do a world of good to 6. I love driving by the PCC car that that one farmer has at the end of his driveway, but it's not worth going ten under the limit behind a fleet of 18-wheelers.

    We definitely need an alternative route south between the 401 and 403. 6 and 24 drag on forever and make you feel as if you're taking your life into your hands. A bus between Waterloo Region and Hamilton is unlikely in the near future, let alone something with rails (whether light or heavy), so we need something to make the connection.
     
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