A plan to ease train-related congestion near the downtown has been endorsed by city council.
City politicians voted unanimously to approve completing the environmental assessment for the Adelaide Street North underpass at their meeting Tuesday night.
The $58-million underpass would run from Central Avenue to Pall Mall Street and McMahen Street, allowing regular traffic and emergency vehicles to circumvent the Canadian Pacific rail line.
“Having been a paramedic on the streets of London for over 10 years, this has been one of the most critical interruptions in our ability to service the population with emergency service in a timely manner,” said Coun. Stephen Turner.
“I know my former colleagues in the emergency service community will be very excited about this,” he said.
There will be delays on Adelaide Street while the underpass is being built, but according to Coun. Phil Squire, city staff have done an amazing job mitigating those issues.
“When I first spoke about this to people at a meeting, I was talking about how long it would be closed and how there would be no way through it, said Squire.
“Then we find out that staff has arranged a way to get around this project while it’s going on. It won’t be perfect, but it will be a really good way to keep part of it open,” he said.
Construction is set to start in 2021, and while that may seem like a long way off, the project is actually 10 years ahead of schedule.
“Some may be saying that they could do it faster,” said Deputy Mayor Paul Hubert.
“This council has done it faster. We’ve found the money, we’ve found the way and our staff have done an outstanding job,” he said.
“This is very much a city building project and something we can be very proud of.”
Coun. Harold Usher said the underpass was a long time coming.
“I remember when we started talking about this, it was $17 million to $20 million. Now it’s $58 million, but I think it’s worth it,” he said.
“Particularly I think it’s worth doing before we get too far with bus rapid transit.”
Major BRT routes proposed along Richmond Street mean there needs to be another option for drivers travelling north-south through the city.
Wharncliffe Road and Western Road are currently being widened from two to four lanes to allow for better traffic flow. For Adelaide, it seems the underpass will be the solution to daily traffic headaches.
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The environmental assessment is now available for public review. If all goes well the project will then move on to the detailed design and property acquisition phase.
“We expect that will take about a year, plus tender preparation and procurement. If we don’t see any part two orders, so if no one challenges the environmental assessment, we might be able to shave a little bit of time off the schedule, but not substantive,” said Kelly Scherr, city engineer.
The earliest the project could begin is 2021, said Scherr.