Woolwich motorists will be dodging construction on several regional roads this year, and for years to come given the 41 projects lined up over the next decade.
For this construction season, work already underway on a new roundabout west of Elmira will be joined by the likes of extensive work on Sawmill Road in Bloomingdale, where the $4.2-million price tag includes improvements at the intersection of St. Charles Street. The second phase of the $4.5-million reconstruction of Church Street East in Elmira will involve some significant juggling.
Preliminary work is also underway with the rehabilitation of the Scheifele bridge on Northfield Drive in Conestogo, a $23.5-million project that runs through 2026, and the $5.7-million rehabilitation of the West Montrose Covered Bridge, which runs over two years.
A host of other projects such as construction on Maryhill Road, Arthur Street, Lobsinger Line and Bridge Street are proposed through 2032. The updated list was presented to Woolwich councillors last week by Sharon Daniel, the region’s supervisor of transportation program planning.
The regional transportation capital program (TCP) is an evolving list of projects with estimated timelines and budgets.
“In terms of determining projects and prioritizing them we start by assessing the pavement and the bridge conditions. We also look at the condition of the underground infrastructure. We have an annual collision monitoring program which indicates to us what safety-related improvements we have to make. We look at any capacity deficiencies, both from a volume of traffic perspective and also from an underground infrastructure perspective. We look at are there any active transportation needs, so sidewalks, bike lanes, multi-use trails, pedestrian crossings,” she explained of the process used to compile the list.
Another factor is underground services, with the region coordinating with the municipalities, the utility companies and other agencies in the planning stage, Daniel added.
The Church Street East reconstruction in Elmira, for instance, involves the replacement of the township’s water and sewer infrastructure. The second phase tackles the stretch farther east to past Spruce Lane.
“The work is anticipated start is early June. The project is anticipated to be completed by November of 2023. There are periods of full closure and periods of partial closure for the road.”
Nowhere near construction, but in the planning stage is a bypass route for Elmira. The region has launched an environmental assessment, with councillors meeting last week indicating a strong preference to keep things moving.
“I understand 2027 is the downtown Elmira reconstruction, which is great news, but I struggle as a resident to understand how we can plan for a downtown reconstruction not knowing if or when there’ll be a bypass, because with a bypass what we need is much different than without. To me, we need to do some planning – they kind of go hand in hand and complement each other,” said Coun. Eric Schwindt.
Likewise, Coun. Nathan Cadeau asked when the EA report would be completed, saying he was concerned about the metrics that will be used to determine if the much-needed bypass will be built.
Mike Henderson, the region’s manager of program development transportation, said the EA is expected to be completed by late 2024 or early 2025, with public consultations to start this fall.
He noted there’s no timeline for building a bypass should studies show one is warranted.
“We have to let this play out. We have to go through the scenarios,” he said of the process. “It’s really about forecasting volumes into the future, looking at options.”