Transportation Minister Caroline Mulroney announced release of the detailed transportation report Thursday morning in Plantagenet as part of a tour she is making of the Prescott-Russell region. The report, Connecting the East : a draft transportation plan for eastern Ontario, outlines a list of more than 50 short- and long-term proposals for improving existing transportation infrastructure within the region, and expanding some of the region’s major highways to better handle increasing amounts of traffic.
« Our government is building Ontario by getting shovels in the ground on highways, roads and public transit needed to fight gridlock and keep goods and people moving, » stated Mulroney. « Our transportation plan for eastern Ontario will unlock access to housing, employment and tourist destinations, while supporting significant trade corridors and economic growth in the region. »
Long-term goals of the plan include expanding Highway 417 to four continuous lanes in both directions between the Highway 16 and Maitland Avenue links in Ottawa, along with plans for widening Highway 401 up to eight lanes in the United Counties of Leeds and Grenville. Other goals include improving local and intermunicipal public transit, adding more truck stops along Highway 401 to support the trucking industry, a new marine strategy for Eastern Ontario that would help with the tourism and recreational boating needs of riverside communities located along the Ottawa River.
The draft master plan was developed through a series of roundtable consultations, a public online survey, and technical research on existing transportation conditions and problems for the 1.8 million residents of Eastern Ontario.
« Connecting ours maller communities with the larger centres, creating more job opportunities, and ensuring the safety and efficiency of rural transportation networks are vital to the growth of our local and regional economies, » stated Daniel Lafleur, mayor of Casselman and warden for the United Counties of Prescott-Russell.
The transportation ministry plans to do a further long-range technical study of Eastern Ontario’s network. Work on the study will begin this summer and should involve further public consultations.