By Dave Flaherty/The Oshawa Express
Durham Region staff members have provided a rationalization for spending $42.5 million in proposed improvements to the Olive-Gibb corridor in Oshawa over the next decade.
The east-west corridor, running from Thornton Road to Townline Road, is considered a priority by regional staff for upgrades. At the current time, there is a small break in the direct connection of the corridor at Simcoe Street.
Planned improvements include widening Gibb Street, between Stevenson Road and Simcoe Street, from two to three lanes to four to five lanes and the construction of a new four to five-lane roadway between Simcoe Street and Ritson Road in 2024 to create a continuous connection.
As reported previously by The Oshawa Express, at least two members of regional council question the need to invest so much into the Olive-Gibb corridor.
“I’ve never run into a traffic problem on Olive Avenue in all the years I’ve used it, but try snaking along Bloor Street in the morning and a lot of times on the way back,” Clarington Councillor Joe Neal said at an earlier council meeting. “My concern is we are spending a lot of money on two roads that in my estimation shouldn’t even be regional roads, they should be City of Oshawa roads.”
Ajax Councillor Shaun Collier said the Olive-Gibb corridor “just didn’t fit” as a priority and pressed Ramesh Jagannathan, regional director of transportation and field services on criteria used when planning road improvements.
“Is there a system to determine what warrants it [as a priority]?” he asked at the time.
Oshawa Councillor John Aker has been the most outspoken supporter of the roadway’s importance.
Speaking with the Express, Aker defended the Olive-Gibb corridor, adding he believes councillors from other municipalities “know absolutely nothing about the dynamics and synergy of the City of Oshawa.”
“They should speak and reflect on their own transportation problems.”
Stating Oshawa “lacks east-west roads to a terrible degree”, Aker considers the expansion of Gibb Street and Olive Avenue as “absolutely necessary for the revitalization of central Oshawa.”
“The new GO Train terminal at the old Knob Hill Farms property, people need to access that conveniently and if not, they will not use it.”
With development in the city’s north end booming, Aker says the central part of Oshawa is often forgotten.
“What I call central Oshawa has been absolutely hurt by the board of education with the closures of Central Collegiate, Donevan, and Vanier,” Aker states. “Sometimes what happens with councillors is often all the attention goes to areas of prosperity and those are the very areas that will take care of themselves.”
A staff report in the Jan. 26 regional council information package notes “the corridor is the only east-west mid-block arterial road through the City of Oshawa between King Street and Bond Street and Highway 401, a distance of approximately 2.5 km, which is substantial in a downtown core.”
“As such, it will play a significant role in moving traffic flows, and as well play an important role for transit services,” the report states.
Lastly, staff notes the project has been in the regional plans for many years, and will also serve as an “alternate route for any east/west auto traffic seeking relief capacity on the Hwy. 2 (Bloor Street) corridor.”