By Joel Wittnebel/The Oshawa Express
Only one step remains for the passing of a plan that looks to improve the city’s transportation networks for the next 15 years.
The Integrated Transportation Master Plan (ITMP) and the associated Active Transportation Master Plan (ATMP) will look for the final stamp of approval from city council at their regular meeting on June 29 after passing through committee on Monday.
“(This) is probably the most important infrastructure-based study that the city has,” says Gary Carroll, the city’s director of engineering services.
The plans have been in the works since 2013 and have used the services of outside consultants MMM Group to complete numerous studies and public consultations that went into the plans.
Brett Spears with the MMM Group appeared before the committee to give a summary of the plans that look to decrease congestion on Oshawa roads, as well as promote the future use of transportation.
The study found that with the continuing urban and population growth in the city in the coming years, the city will be facing serious congestion issues which will also lead to serious economic impacts if nothing is done to address it.
Currently, 16 per cent of vehicle kilometres travelled on Oshawa roads are in congested conditions, which has a cost estimate of $50 million.
If no changes are made, that number would more than double by 2031 with 38 per cent of kilometres travelled taking place in congested conditions, incurring a $245-million price tag.
The plans lay out numerous recommendations to the city and suggest several priorities for the city to focus on.
One such recommendation is looking into changing the city’s one-way street system in the downtown to a two-way system.
This could not only help transit by allowing stops on both sides of the road, but could aid businesses as well, Spears explained.
“Moving forward, two-way streets are going to make the downtown more livable,” Spears says.
“A one-way system is more to get people through an area, not to an area,” he added.
Another priority in the plan focuses on the city advocating for increased GO service and infrastructure.
However, with a rapid expansion of the GO train and bus system, numerous municipalities are now competing for a slice of the funding from Metrolinx, the province’s public transportation entity.
“I just have to encourage you, as leaders of the city, to put your best effort forward, to put your best foot forward…to make sure Oshawa gets their fair share of the GO funding,” Spears said.
However, Mayor John Henry showed his frustration with the concept, citing the proposed expansion of the Lakeshore East rail corridor, which has been in the works for eight years and seen no movement.
The ITMP also lays out the costs to the city over the next 15 years if the changes are to be implemented. A total of $90.48 million would be required for the ITMP, or $11.31 million a year. For the associated ATMP, $27 million would be needed, or $1.3 million a year.
As part of the city’s recommendation, these costs are to be considered and implemented during the budgeting process in years to come.
Full copies of the ITMP and ATMP will be made available on the city’s website.