By Chris Jones/The Oshawa Express
The Metrolinx board of directors has confirmed it will be extending the GO Lakeshore East line out to Bowmanville.
The GO rail extension will feature four new stops through Oshawa and Clarington, including one at Thornton’s Corners on the east side of Thornton Road South, a central station just south of Oshawa’s downtown core, and stations in both Courtice and Bowmanville.
“These stations… will drive economic revitalization in several key areas, while supporting active transportation within our communities. This investment is expected to have a positive economic impact on the communities for the next 50 years,” reads a Durham Region press release.
The project is expected to provide direct access to Oshawa’s post-secondary institutions, Ontario Tech University, Durham College, and Trent University Durham.
Alongside Regional Chair John Henry, Oshawa Mayor Dan Carter, and other representatives from around the region, Durham MPP Lindsey Park recently announced Metrolinx had selected the city and region’s preferred option for the GO extension.
She explained Metrolinx chose the option because it utilizes existing infrastructure to cross Highway 401, and also services all major population areas while allowing for the current Oshawa GO station to remain open.
The expansion will see all-day, two-way service, with trains traveling express from Union Station to Pickering, and then making stops at all stations in Durham Region.
“I’m over the moon in regards to it. Because this announcement, and the next stages, will change our community over the next 50 years,” Carter told The Oshawa Express. “It’s not only great for the health and well-being of our community, especially those who have to travel long ways to get to work, but it will also change our economy.”
Late last year, the city, region and Clarington collaborated to create a report to the overall impact the expansion will have on the area.
At Feb. 18 meeting of Oshawa city council, several councillors spoke on how important the joint report had been.
“In my view, the money we spent on this is the best money we’ve spent in a long, long time,” Ward 5 city and regional councillor Brian Nicholson said.
He praised the three municipalities and their staff for “being aggressive” in letting Metrolinx know what the best option was.
“I think it went a long way in us achieving that the options we wanted are the options that are being considered at this point,” Nicholson said before the board of directors approved the route on Thursday, Feb. 20.
Without the report, Nicholson said there may a have been a “quick fix” decision on the expansion from Metrolinx.
However, he stressed the importance for the province’s treasury board to release the funds for the project, and speed up the construction timeline.
“I would like them to take a serious look at the 70-month schedule,” he said. “I think we need this project’s sod turning to be this year, and we need the funding to be released this year. [The province] should give direction to Metrolinx to make this a priority and get the construction started as soon possible… we’ve waited long enough.”
Ward 2 city and regional councillor Tito-Dante Marimpietri said without the joint report, he didn’t think Metrolinx’s plans would have gone the way the city wanted to see.
Ward 4 city and regional councillor Rick Kerr called it an “excellent” collaboration between the three municipalities.
He noted Hamilton and Toronto are in line to receive billions of dollars of GO Transit funding, but this project in Durham Region is just as important.
“Shovels should be in the ground next week,” he said.
– with files from Dave Flaherty