By Kevin Werner, News Staff
Hamilton drivers should get ready for traffic gridlock when one of the city’s largest infrastructure projects begins next month.
The city will start building a detour around the CN bridge on Centennial Parkway that will kick off the extensive and complicated replacement of the bridge, and reconstruction of Centennial Parkway from King Street to Goderich that is scheduled to be completed by the summer of 2015. Total cost for the two projects is estimated to be about $20 million.
“This will be short-term pain, for long-term gain,” said Ward 5 councillor Chad Collins. “It’s the largest project in the city, if you combine the bridge with the road work. But it’s something that needs to be done. We just want to do it as quickly as possible.”
The Centennial Parkway detour around the CN bridge will encroach upon the Home Depot area, and will add an extra lane to the temporary roadway from the current three lanes. One of the lanes was eliminated to provide a safe pedestrian walkway.
City officials say the detour should be completed by next spring, possibly May or June. Then the real work begins when the city, CN and GO Transit begin the mammoth task of demolishing the 84-year-old bridge and building a new structure for CN and GO trains.
The project will add an extra track, and a platform to accommodate an expected GO transit service from the downtown to Stoney Creek.
A new GO transit station is being contemplated within the Kenora area. A sidewalk will also be built underneath the bridge to allow for safer pedestrian traffic, said Collins.
The bridge replacement is being managed by CN, but the estimated $12-million price tag, which also includes building a new pumping station to alleviate the persistent flooding problem underneath the bridge, and reconstructing Centennial Parkway from Centennial to Goderich is being paid by the city, CN and GO transit.
The bridge is estimated to be about $10 million, with the reconstruction of Centennial near the bridge and the pumping station expected to cost about $2.4 million. A new water main will be added from Warrington to Goderich. The city is paying for the detour, road reconstruction and pumping station portion of the project.
Collins is particularly pleased that a new station will be constructed near the bridge to mitigate the flooding issues under the bridge that occurs during severe rain storms.
“It won’t eliminate the flooding, but it will reduce the number that happens,” he said.
Meanwhile, city officials will be issuing a tender next January or February for the reconstruction of Centennial Parkway from King Street to Arrowsmith. The budgeted cost is about $7 million.
Collins compares what Centennial Parkway will look like to the current Queenston Road, with its easy turning lanes, and relatively smooth traffic flow.
“The businesses along Queenston are doing well,” he said. “There is a free flow of traffic. The centre lane is less hectic.”
The project includes eliminating the majority of the medians along Centennial Parkway that has hampered, according to local businesses, traffic and contributed to the constant tie-ups. The project will also include installing a large 120 mm water main that will connect to Barton Street and link up with a similar water main already built along Upper Centennial to Elfrida, and Nash Road. The water main is necessary to accommodate the exploding residential growth on the mountain. There will also be another small water main installed around Barton Street.
The reconstruction of the road, which the city took over in 1998 from the province, will also include new sidewalks. City officials said they still have to conduct a geo-technical study, and utility companies will be consulted.
The reconstruction will be done in sections to minimize disruptions starting in 2014, and last until the summer of 2015, the same time when the CN bridge work is scheduled to finish. The road work will include lane closures, warn city officials.
Centennial Parkway was built by the province in 1932, and at the time identified as Highway 8, then Highway 20. The province downloaded the responsibility of Centennial to Hamilton during the Mike Harris Progressive Conservative era to oversee its maintenance. Two years ago the city received a shock that it also was responsible for maintaining the CN bridge which came with the parkway.
While Anne Marie Hebbart, who oversees the Centennial Parkway Plaza, applauds the reconstruction of Centennial Parkway, she is concerned the work will take two years to complete.
“I would like to see the work happen faster,” said Hebbart, who along with about 15 other people turned out for a public information session on the project organized last week by Collins. “This is a safety issue. I absolutely support this. It should have happened years ago.”
Hebbart and area resident Mike Pawlowski both wanted a new stop light installed at the corner at Centennial Parkway and Vineyard Road, near Eastgate Mall to improve traffic flow in that area.
“We definitely need a traffic light there,” he said.
Pawlowski also said he’s worried about the new GO station, and the traffic it will bring to a residential neighbourhood that already sees speeding vehicles travelling along nearby streets.
“Goderich will get the brunt of the traffic,” he said.