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Report: Metrolinx, get to work

Region set to call on transit agency to start work on expansion of Bloor near Oshawa GO station

The Region of Durham will be calling on Metrolinx to get started on a project to expand Bloor Street near the Oshawa GO station in order to relieve some of the traffic backup seen in the area during rush hour traffic. Metrolinx first committed to the project in 2014.

The Region of Durham will be calling on Metrolinx to get started on a project to expand Bloor Street near the Oshawa GO station in order to relieve some of the traffic backup seen in the area during rush hour traffic. Metrolinx first committed to the project in 2014.

By Graeme McNaughton/The Oshawa Express

The Region of Durham says it cannot expedite the schedule for an expansion of Bloor Street near the Oshawa GO station to alleviate traffic woes – however, it will be pressuring Metrolinx to move ahead with a previously announced plan that would provide some relief.

According to a report to be presented at Dec. 7’s committee of the whole meeting, the region says it would be impossible to bump the project up by two years based on work that still needs to be completed before shovels can be put into the ground. While the environmental assessment was completed in September 2012, the process for relocating the utility lines in the area has not started.

However, there may be some smaller scale relief on that stretch of Bloor as Metrolinx announced its intentions to add a second eastbound lane to the street from the train station’s west-end parking lot and connecting to the existing widened road just west of Stevenson Road.

“It’s within the region’s budget for 2019, about $10 million. But back in 2014, Metrolinx decided that they couldn’t wait that long – they wanted to add parking and an additional lane in advance of our project,” Steve Mayhew, the region’s manager of transportation and infrastructure, tells The Oshawa Express.

“It’s a $2-million job, so they’re going to give us another million when it goes to construction. We’re not paying for it, they were going to do it in advance of our project because they didn’t want to wait until 2019.”

While Metrolinx said it wanted to start the work as soon as possible, it has been delayed.

“They wanted to do it as soon as they could and they started the design process and that took a while. I think they wanted to do it in 2015, and then 2016 and it got delayed as they were doing other work there,” Mayhew says.

So now, if approved by council, the Region of Durham will be calling on Metrolinx to complete this project in the next construction season.

However, this proposed work could make the planned 2019 project more complicated, as plans for the work on Bloor see it moved south.

“They would put in the additional eastbound lane, and then we’d actually have to relocate that lane to the south for our project. There’s going to be some overlap. I’m not sure how it would lay out, but we probably have to move our lane south of the lane that they build,” Mayhew says, adding that there will likely be “throwaway costs, but they are being kept to a minimum.”

According to a report presented at November’s committee of the whole meeting, $82.24 million has been budgeted for the work being done on the Bayly, Victoria and Bloor corridor that stretches across the region, with construction expected to last until 2026.

The report came after a request by Councillor Joe Neal of Clarington at the November committee of the whole meeting to investigate the possibility of bringing the project forward to the 2017 construction season. At that meeting, he said relief is needed in that area due to the high amount of traffic coming out of the train station at the end of the workday.

“Anybody who’s been down, getting out of the GO station at about 5:30 or between 4:30 and 6:30, it’s the biggest traffic mess trying to get out of that,” he said at the time.

“In fact, what I usually do is pull a left to get on Thickson and the 401 to head back east. It’s almost impossible sometimes – you’re sitting there for half an hour.”

In an emailed statement, Kim Johnson, a spokesperson for Metrolinx, says that the transit agency and the region “are working together on the design for the Bloor Street West project. Stay tuned for more information.”