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County of Peterborough passes transportation plan

The option of widening Ward Street in Bridgenorth into a five-lane road was removed from Peterborough County’s updated transport plan when it was adopted by the county council at its meeting on Wednesday.

The plan, which will guide the county as a long-term strategy for its operational and capital transportation network policies to meet the county’s needs for the next 30 years, said a class environmental assessment study could recommend a five-lane cross-section for Ward Street (four lanes plus a two-way center left-turn lane) in the future.

But, thanks to a motion from Selwyn Township Deputy Mayor Sherry Senis, that part of the plan was scrapped.

“To me, that would be overkill…and it would be very costly to the county because of the necessary expropriation of land and buildings,” Senis said.

“This would result in some residents literally walking out of their front door onto the road. Why would we waste the consultants’ time, let alone the money spent on them looking at five pathways? I think we should reduce the span,” Senis continued, while agreeing that Ward Street will need to be widened – but not to five lanes.

The transportation master plan, presented by consultants at Paradigm Transportation Solutions, recommends 11 growth-related road extensions and corridor improvements and 87 intersection improvements on 24 county roads.

Bryan Weir, the county’s senior director of planning and public works, said some of the recommendations can be done internally and have no financial impact.

“Others will have substantial financial impacts, particularly when we look at road expansions, corridor improvements, engineering studies and intersection improvements,” Weir said.

“But, of course, this will all be part of the budget process,” for the council to decide whether certain projects go ahead or not, he said.

He said there have been extensive consultations with the public, local First Nations and the eight townships throughout the process since its launch in 2020.

Improved road, pedestrian and cyclist safety, increased lighting and reflective signage on Highways 7 and 115/35, increased public transit, increased snow removal and sidewalk salting, added lanes cornering at intersections, introduction of Via Rail high frequency passenger train service and the use of ORVs on county roads were some of the concerns expressed by the consultants and the Master Plan Steering Committee during consultations.

The plan also noted that continued reliance on the automobile for virtually all travel could have environmental, economic, societal and health consequences.

A review of the transport plan will take place in five years.

The county posted information about the transportation plan online at bit.ly/3MKcSHr.

Brendan Burke is a reporter for the Peterborough-based Examiner. His reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative.

Brendan Burke, Local Journalism Initiative reporter, The Peterborough Examiner