Early on in the process of evaluating the need for a Third Crossing, it was stated that:
“. . . some local traffic with inter-city trips within the City of Kingston will continue to use Highway 401 . . . however . . . the purpose of the highway is to satisfy high speed, long distance needs”.
Subsequently, Highway 401 seems to have totally disappeared from any further considerations, regardless of further City reports that go on to say
“. . . there continues to be some desire to validate the needs justification for the Third Crossing . . .”
In the intervening time it has become plainly apparent that Hwy 401, the obvious alternative to the Lasalle Causeway for crossing and access to Kingston, has been dismissed in favour of a Third Crossing.
With the major negative impacts a Third Crossing will bring all Kingstonians, we decided to take a closer look at Hwy 401.
For some years the Ministry of Transportation – Ontario (MTO) has been steadily widening Hwy 401 to six lanes from west of #38, currently completed up to just west of the Cataraqui River Bridge.
The widening of Hwy 401 has been a steadily progressive march eastwards from Toronto to Cobourg, so just why did Queens Park choose to leap forward and pick Kingston to undertake this massive improvement project?
We posed a number of questions to our MPP.
It transpires that to date Queens Park has spent $139,500,000 on the widening.
Furthermore, when asked why the Province targeted Kingston for widening treatment, the reply was as follows:
“. . . The prioritization of 6-laning in the Kingston area is related to the higher traffic volumes in and around the city and improving the operation of Highway 401 through the city. . . construction was recently completed expanding Highway 401 to six lanes from County Road 38 to west of the Cataraqui River bridge. A contract to replace and expand the Cataraqui River bridge is expected to tender later in 2016, extending Highway 401 expansion to Highway 15 . . . The ministry considers a number of factors when prioritizing highway expansion projects, such as improving travel time and safety, increasing economic benefit and improving economic development, and reflecting provincial and municipal planning and policy priorities.“
In 2017 the MTO also plans to reconfigure the Hwy 401/15 junction http://www.hwy401-15interimimprovements.com/home.html, eliminating the #15 northbound backup, thus removing the irritations experienced by homebound workers in the evening.
So there you have it.
The Province is pouring millions of dollars into the improvement of Hwy 401 across Kingston specifically for our benefit, and at no cost to City Hall and Kingston taxpayers.
City Hall persists in asking Kingstonians about design and other features of the Third Crossing.
Whatever happened to the continuation of “. . . needs justification for the Third Crossing . . .”
The question of ‘need’ is for you to answer!