Widening of Marleau Avenue to begin in spring

This section of Marleau Avenue in Cornwall, Ont., seen here on July 8, 2015, will be widened to four lanes with sidewalks and bicycle lanes. The first phase of widening Marleau to Alice Street is expected to being in spring of 2016. (Cornwall Newswatch/Bill Kingston)

CORNWALL – Drivers will have to contend with spring construction along one of Cornwall’s major arteries as the city widens Marleau Avenue.

The federal and provincial governments announced a total of $1.6 million Wednesday morning for the first phase of expanding Marleau to four lanes between Marlborough Street and Alice Street.

The announcement at city hall was made by MP Guy Lauzon and MPP Grant Crack, on behalf of the provincial government.

The section of road from Marlborough to Alice will also have dedicated turning lanes at the intersection of McConnell Avenue, as well as bicycle lanes, sidewalks on both sides of the street and a median in high pedestrian traffic areas.

The federal government is providing $833,000 from the Small Communities Fund while the Ontario government is matching the amount. The city will be responsible for the balance of costs, also in the neighbourhood of $833,000.

“With the continued support of the federal government and the provincial government, Cornwall will receive or realize the growth that we’re prepared for,” Mayor Leslie O’Shaughnessy said.

At 17,000 vehicles per day and more people heading to and from the Cornwall Business Park, the city said the street can’t handle the traffic anymore.

Infrastructure General Manager John St. Marseille told Cornwall Newswatch they are shooting for May 2016 to start construction on the first phase.

He said the city’s share has been “on the radar” but the money for it won’t show up until the 2016 budget.

“Now that we have the funding in place, we need to look at it from a planning and design level so we can complete the engineering design and then we can move towards…the tender and a contractor,” St. Marseille said.

The infrastructure manager said, not unlike any other construction project, there will be “challenges” through the area. Public open houses will be planned in order to give the public an idea of what’s going to happen before construction begins.

“We had a lot of work, the initial phase of the project started last year at the intersection of Ninth and Marlborough and I think residents can appreciate some of the challenges that happened during that construction period…there will be some short term pain for long term gain,” St. Marseille said.

The reconfiguration of the street will cut through a large part of the Ontario Early Years Center property at 550 Ninth Street East. St. Marseille said they are in talks with the Upper Canada District School Board. The city wants to buy the property with the intent of tearing down the center to make room for the road. “There is going to be a need for acquisition of some properties including the Upper Canada District School Board (property) so we’ve been in touch with them previously so they are aware of that as well. That’s part of project planning that we need to do now.”

Barring an agreement, CAO Norm Levac said an Environmental Assessment from 2012 has looked favourably on expropriating property to make sure the street widening goes ahead.

As for the phase two from Alice Street to Iroquois Drive, the city has been systematically buying up homes and land. As of today, the city has bought half of the dozen homes in the affected area. That portion isn’t on the radar for at least another three years.

While the road is torn up, St. Marseille said they will also be looking at “opportunities” to repair or upgrade any water and sewer lines.

The entire Marleau Avenue Reconstruction Project (from Marlborough Street to Glenview Boulevard) has a price tag of $11 million.

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