Work on the oft-delayed Highway 7 project between Kitchener and Guelph finally got underway this spring, and is starting to ramp up during the summer months.
The first steps include bridgework in Kitchener.
“For the new Highway 7 between Kitchener and Guelph, work is beginning this year in a few specific locations, and will take place under two separate contracts,” Ministry of Transportation spokesperson Liane Fisher said in an e-mail. “The first, to widen the Highway 85 Guelph Street Bridge in preparation for the future Highway 7 and Highway 85 interchange, began in June and is underway as planned. Also beginning this year will be a contract to relocate municipal utilities at the Victoria Street Bridge over Highway 85.”
The project was promised by then-premier Dalton McGuinty in 2007, only to be pushed back to 2010. Then, after more roadblocks were put up, the issue was once again held up until its reemergence as part of the Liberal Party’s 2014 election campaign platform.
At the time, Kitchener-Conestoga MPP Michael Harris called the government out for playing politics.
“This is a much needed expansion that we have needed for decades,” Harris, the Progressive Conservative’s transportation critic said. “Yet we have been forced to play this waiting game as governments kicked the can down the road.”
But now, decades after preliminary discussions on the project began, real progress is finally being made.
“Work will continue over the next couple of years with the widening and realignment of Shirley Avenue and the Victoria Street widening and bridge replacement,” Fisher said.
Completion of the highway is expected to take five years, she added.
“Although advance work is underway this year, we are still determining the order of construction and delivery model for the rest of the project. Construction on the overall highway is expected to take at least five construction seasons to complete.”
The new controlled-access highway will run a parallel course just north of the existing route.