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Regional road budget up 1.8 per cent

By Chris Jones/The Oshawa Express

Durham Region staff have requested a 1.8 per cent funding boost for transportation servicing and financing in 2019.

Staff presented to regional council their 2019 transportation servicing and financing study, and they have requested a program that will cost $94.5 million.

According to Mary Simpson, the director of financial planning and purchasing for the region, this is an increase of 1.8 per cent over 2018.

The budget can be broken down into five categories, $42.1 million to growth-related road expansion projects, $35.9 million to road rehabilitation, $7.6 million for structures rehabilitation and replacement, $5.4 million to traffic control programs, and $3.6 million to other programs.

The raise in the total funding between 2018 and 2019 is mainly due to the federal gas tax, which is set to increase from $4.8 million last year to $7.5 million in 2019.

However, there was also a dip of $1.2 million in development charges, as they were $36.3 million last year, and are projected to be $35.1 million in 2019.

Other areas remain the same in 2019, as regional roads levies remained at $12.6 million, roads rehabilitation levies at $26.1 million, bridge rehabilitation levies at $5.5 million, and general levies at $6.2 million.

It is also projected between 2019 and 2028 the region will need to spend $345 million on transportation projects throughout Durham.

In Oshawa, there will be work done on Harmony Road, which will widen the road to five lanes from north of Coldstream Drive to south of Conlin Road. The project is expected to cost $5.4 million.

Another project in the City of Oshawa will be on Bloor Street, with work extending into Whitby, Clarington, Ajax and Pickering as well. It is expected to cost $89.32 million between 2019 and 2028.

In terms of road rehabilitation in Oshawa, there are currently plans in place to upgrade Ritson Road between Adelaide Avenue and Rossland Road.

There will also be rehabilitation work done on Harmony Road north of Conlin Road to south of Winchester Road.

Oshawa Ward 5 regional councillor Brian Nicholson wanted to know about a long tenured Gibb Street and Olive Avenue corridor project. The project would include the widening of Gibb Street between Simcoe Street and Stevenson Road from two or three lanes to four or five, and the construction of a new four to five lane roadway between Simcoe Street and Ritson Road in 2024.

The new road would create a continuous connection and would improve traffic flow.

According to Ramesh Jagannathan, Durham’s director of transportation and field services, the region is approximately two-thirds of the way through acquiring the required lands for the project.

Jagannathan said the region needs to acquire 120 properties in order to do the necessary road work, and has acquired 75 to 80 so far.

With all of the work done towards it, Jagannathan said the region expects the project to begin between 2021 and 2024.

However, Nicholson said he wanted a firmer commitment, noting he’s heard the story before.

“We need it now, not in six years time,” he said.

Other notable projects occurring around Durham are the implementation of bike lanes and multi-use pathways.

On Victoria Street from South Blair Street to west of Thickson Road in Whitby, a 1.7 kilometre long multi-use pathway will be installed in conjunction with road widening and realignment construction work.

The construction work on Victoria Street will widen the street from two or three lanes to five, and is projected to cost $11.5 million in 2019.

Also in Whitby, a 795 metre long multi-use path will be installed on Rossland Road from east of Cochrane Street to Brock Street, which will be done in conjunction with intersection modifications construction work at the Rossland Road and Brock Street intersection.

In 2019 the modifications to the intersection are projected to cost the region approximately $5 million.

Finally, in Pickering there will be 825 metres of cycling paved shoulders installed on Brock Road from north of Mowbray Street to south of Concession Road 7 as part of the road rehabilitation work.

Several projects are set to begin around Durham Region in 2019, and the requests from staff will now proceed to budget.