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Orléans Ward
Bob Monette

Beacon Hill,
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Tim Tierney



 

 

 

   

 

(Posted 10:00 p.m., Feb. 14)
Queensway widening, light rail will try commuters' patience

By Fred Sherwin
Orléans Online

East end commuters may want to enroll in anger management classes now, or better yet buy shares in the makers of Excedrin or some other headache remedy -- they're gonna need it.

The Ontario Ministry of Transport rolled out their plans to widen the eastern section of the Queensway on Monday, and two things jumped out immediately; first, the job will take three years to complete; and second, even when the work is completed, commuters will have to suffer through another two years of disruptions while the transitway is converted to light rail.

Work on the $220 million project will begin this summer with the expansion of the pilings under Hurdman's Bridge which crosses the Ottawa River. The pilings need be to widened in order for the bridge to be widened from six lanes to eight.

The Queensway widening will require the replacement or rehabilitiation of seven bridges and overpasses. The work itself will be done in two phases. During Phase 1, from the summer of 2012 to the summer of 2014, crews will work on the outside lanes of the Queensway. During Phase 2, from the fall of 2014 to the summer of 2015, they will work on the inside lanes and the median.

Lane closures will be in effect through the duration of the project, however, they will be limited to off peak hours wherever and whenever possible. The Queensway will also be closed during the rapid bridge replacement at the Vanier Parkway, Lees Avenue and Belfast Road.

Of particular note, Hwy. 174 eastbound through the split will be reduced to just a single lane for up to five months during the summer of 2013, while construction crews build a dedicated off-ramp for St. Laurent Blvd.

In order to avoid congestion, commuters will be able to exit Hwy. 174 at Blair Road and take either Ogilvie Road to the Vanier Parkway, or Montreal Road downtown.

Even when the dedicated off ramp is finished and the two eastbound thru lanes are reopend, one of the lanes will be reserved for buses while the transitway is converted to light rail.

Other measures include the permanent closure of the southeast St. Laurent Blvd. on ramp except for transit service and emergency vehicle use. In other words, commuters driving north along At. Laurent Blvd. will no longer be able to access Hwy. 417 eastbond.

The eastbound on-ramp from Lees Avenue will also be closed for three years from the fall of 2012 to the fall of 2015, and the Lees Avenue overpass will be closed for the better part of 12 weeks during the summer of 2014 to allow work crews to prepare the bridge for replacement.

The distruptions and potential headaches are a necessary evil in order to fix the split and widen the Queensway, which will be needed to alleviate the inevitable traffic congestion that will exist during the light rail project until the fall of 2017.

When they eventually get around to converting the section of the transitway from St. Laurent Blvd. to Blair Road, transit service will be diverted to Hwy. 174. The eastbound buses will use the extra lane that will be created once the dedicated off-ramp for St. Laurent is opened, and a temporary bus only lane will be added westbound through the split.

The later will require the closure of the on-ramp from Hwy. 417 westbound to Hwy. 174 eastbound for up to three years. Commuters trying to get to Orléans from westbound Hwy. 417 will have to exit at Innes Road and either take Innes into Orléans, or access Hwy. 174 at Blair Road.

For more information residents can visit www.queenswayexpansioneast.ca where they have detailed maps and an over view of the project.

(This story was made possible thanks to the generous support of our local business partners.)

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