Hwy. 401 interchange in Kingston slated for major safety improvements

Traffic on eastbound highway 401 is not affected.  . CKWS TV

One of Kingston’s busiest highway interchanges is slated for a major expansion over the next two years.

The Ontario Ministry of Transportation is planning to reconfigure the Highway 401 and Gardiners Road (Highway 38) interchange. The contract is currently being tendered and it should be awarded in late September.

“Construction is expected to begin as early as fall 2018, with an approximate end date of fall 2020,” according to Donna Madden with Stantec Consulting Inc., the company contracted by MTO to design the upgrades.

While the interchange improvements are characterized as an “interim” solution, the design changes are substantial.

Here’s a breakdown of some of the improvements planned for the Highway 401/Gardiners Road interchange. City of Kingston staff report

The construction work will include:

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  • Reconfiguring the Highway 401 westbound on-ramp and off-ramp to align with the McIvor Road intersection
  • Reconfiguring the Highway 401 eastbound off-ramp
  • Relocating and enlarging the carpool lot from Gardiners Road to the southeast corner of the redesigned interchange
  • Replacing the Highway 401 westbound Collins Creek Bridge and raising the grade of the westbound lanes
  • Rehabilitating the Highway 401 eastbound Collins Creek Bridge
  • Installing new traffic signals at the north and south ramp terminals

In recent years, the MTO has worked on design plans to improve safety and ease congestion for motorists at the 401-Gardiners Road interchange, located near the city’s western boundary.

Among the current problems identified at the interchange are peak period lineups at the off-ramps onto Gardiners Road, relatively tight curves on the eastbound and westbound off-ramps, an aging overpass constructed in 1960, limited carpool parking and residential growth in the area that will put additional pressure on the interchange.

READ MORE: Local residents frustrated about detouring traffic from Hwy. 401

Because much of the work will be done at night, the MTO has requested a noise bylaw exemption. City council approved an exemption from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. for a total of 150 nights on periodic dates between Sept. 1, 2018 and Nov. 30, 2020.

“Night work is required to mitigate traffic closure impacts and to minimize the duration of construction,” according to a city staff report.

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The nighttime construction will involve grading, paving, guide rail installation, concrete work, line painting and electrical work. Rock excavation will also take place at the commuter parking lot in the southeast quadrant of the interchange and during the widening of Gardiners Road.

There are approximately 25 homes and two hotels located within a 700-metre radius of the construction. MTO officials say they have consulted with property owners to address their noise concerns.

Future phases are expected to include the relocation of the Gardiners Road overpass at Highway 401, which will be moved west of the current structure.

The project will require land acquisition to accommodate the interchange expansion and reconfiguration plans.

The total cost of the interchange improvements is expected to be around $25 million, said Tina White, senior project manager for MTO’s eastern region, during an interview when the project was first unveiled to city council. At the time, she was asked about the scope of highway improvements that continue around Kingston.

“I think Kingston has been very lucky the ministry has done a lot of improvements all the way across the city. You don’t see that in a lot of municipalities.”

Kingston’s section of the 401 is already the focus of a decade-long effort to add a third lane to the highway in each direction as well as improvements at other interchanges in the area.

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Construction is currently taking place on another section of the 401 in order to widen the highway to six lanes between the Cataraqui River bridge and Highway 15 in the city’s east end.

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