An accident Wednesday afternoon underscores the need for the long-delayed Hwy. 7 project linking Kitchener and Guelph.
A very minor motorcycle mishap just west of Shantz Station Road led to an unnecessary 911 call, eventually closing a lane of the highway and backing up traffic even before rush hour set in. At peak times, the highway is carrying heavy volumes, and the number of cars will grow dramatically by the time a new highway is built to the north. While the province has committed to the project, it’s probably a decade away from fruition.
Of course, it’s been nothing but hurry-up-and-wait for a highway some 35 years in the making.
Once a new four-lane highway is completed, the region would have two major routes – one a high-speed expressway with controlled access and the other a more genteel version of the current highway. This would certainly be a boon to the Breslau garden mall, whose customers would be better served by a more sedate stream of traffic along the existing route.
That arrangement will also serve the development of Breslau, where growth will come in leaps in bounds. That includes a retail centre to the north of Victoria Street on land adjacent to Ebycrest Road.
The overburdened existing route will become even more perilous and snarled as the Breslau area starts to boom.
As well, underuse of the Breslau bypass route – a sore spot with many people in the village – can in part be tied to the unbuilt Hwy. 7. The new highway would lead to the northward extension of Fountain Street, prompting more people to take that route rather than using Woolwich Street through the village core.
For travellers coming from the north and west, the Breslau bypass route is clearly not an easy option to exercise. Fountain Street is the choice of the minority heading between Victoria Street and points south of the village.
The shortest distance between two points is a straight line. Basic geometry. And the basis of ongoing concern by residents of Breslau, particularly those living on Woolwich Street.
Construction of a bypass route was supposed to take traffic around the village. Instead, drivers have been slow to make use of the new route. Even a casual observer would note that trucks and commuters continue to travel through the community as they move back and forth between Hwy. 7 and the industrial areas to the south of the village.
A number of solutions have been proposed. The most prevalent suggestion – continuing Fountain Street across Victoria Street to meet Ebycrest Road – would have the desired effect: traffic coming from the north would be funneled directly onto the new route.
Waterloo Region, however, has no plans to complete that link until 2014 at the earliest – there is talk of waiting for construction to begin on a new Hwy. 7.
A new east-west corridor, combined with a more attractive north-south Fountain Street route, would serve to meet the needs of Breslau residents, addressing their safety concerns, as well as those of people travelling on the current Hwy. 7.