On March 27th, I went to an open community meeting about the plan for the expansion and revitalization of County Road 43. There were people there from the firm that created the plan and some municipal councilors and staff. What struck me as odd, was how few members of the community came to have a look. It was a Thursday night and people have busy lives, but I thought there would have been more people show up. Then I realized something, if you weren’t looking closely on the North Grenville website or in the papers, it would have been very easily missed. I noticed the meeting because I’m very interested in the municipality and what’s happening. However, not everyone is as involved or as interested as I am. Also, not everyone has the time to go if they have other activities going on at the same time as these public meetings. So how could the municipality get the message out to more people without incurring any additional expense? Using social media can be a big help in getting out a message to people. However, what if some people in a certain area don’t use social media? How do we reach them to tell them about events like this? I’d be curious about people’s input on this. So if anyone has an idea, let me know! I think we should have a town crier! I’ll talk more about that on another post.
On looking at the plan, one thing struck me right away, that’s a lot of roundabouts! I think I counted eight including the current ones. These are all planned for the short space between the 416 and Somerville Road. Two are particularly close together with one at Community Square and one at James Street. The roundabouts will allow access to all side roads and key destination areas off County Road 43. This will make it much easier to turn left during heavier traffic times and hopefully prevent people from making unsafe, careless driving decisions when trying to turn left. Roundabouts will also allow more pedestrian crossing points along County Road 43. I’ve always felt it was very dangerous walking along Country Road 43.
Speaking of walking, as part of the plan, there will be sidewalks and bike paths on each side of the road. Not to mention, there will be a new pedestrian crossover with a signal. The new crossover will be between James Street and Anniversary Way. It will be push button activated and will be integrated with the North Grenville Trails Masterplan. Crossings at roundabouts will be well marked with special truncated dome mats and clearly painted lines. They are ‘courtesy crosswalks’, so that means cars have the right of way. Pedestrians must wait until there is a gap in traffic to attempt to cross at the roundabouts. The centre median will provide a large refuge space for pedestrians waiting to cross.
Some other features of the new plan are; four lane roadway, centre median with street lighting, the lighting posts will have spots to hang banners and flower baskets, all utilitiy lines crossing the road will be buried, there also will be a curb and gutter and a boulevard.
A new bridge will be added beside the old one. Part of the reason for this is so that when the work is being done, traffic can still pass through because the old bridge will still be functional. The new bridge will be higher than the old one by three feet and will be 76m longer. This is to accommodate Transport Canada clear opening guidelines. There will also be some rehab work done on the old bridge. As well, leaving the old bridge as is, will lessen the environmental impact on the waterway.
Now the real work begins. The united counties must apply to both the federal and provincial governments for the funding necessary to build the project. Without this funding, the united counties couldn’t afford to build it on their own. So we have to wait for the united counties to apply, wait for the governments to announce when public infrastructure funding is available and wait for the application to be approved. Then, the actual work can begin. The good news is that this project is a priority project for the united counties, so it will be top of the list for projects to be done. The only question is when it will be done. As one of the municipal staff said, it may start next year and it may not start for ten years. It all depends on if and when we get the government funding.
This leads me to the final piece of information. How much will it cost? After talking with municipal staff, the estimate was between $18 to $20 million dollars. So now you see why we need the gov’t funding. I actually thought it would be in the $25 million range, but the thing with estimates is, they don’t mean much….they’re just estimates. A lot can happen during a project of this magnitude. There are a lot of moving pieces in a big project like this and a lot of things have to fall into place to make things run smoothly for the project to be done on time and more importantly within budget.
Hopefully the ball gets rolling soon. I’m very excited about the plan. It looks well designed and planned and would be a big boost to North Grenville. I will attempt to post photos of the posters that were on display at the meeting.
Have a great weekend!