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Wider highway top choice for Orléans- Rockland link
Dennis Hopper (right), part of the City of Ottawa’s light rail transit (LRT) project, was one of several transportation experts trying to answer questions from residents of Rockland, Cumberland and the Orléans areas during a series of recent open houses on plans for improving the traffic situation between Rockland and Orléans.
GREGG CHAMBERLAIN firstname.lastname@example.org
linking it to either Innes Road or Wilhaven Road in Cumberland-Orléans, present pro- blems with getting provincial support since any such extension means going through land now classed as agricultural. Jean-Marc Lalonde, former MPP for Glen- garry-Prescott-Russell and now the new Ward 1 councillor at Clarence-Rockland council, noted that the city and the counties also need to keep lobbying the provincial government about its responsibilities for the highway link betweenOrléans and Rockland. The Harris/Eaves Progressive Conserva- tive government forced responsibility for Highway 174 and County Road 17 onto the City of Ottawa and the UCPR, respectively,
arguing that they were “regional roads” and not real “provincial highways” because they served local traffic for the most part. Lalonde has long lobbied both as a for- mer mayor of Rockland and later as MPP for provincial funding improvements to the Orléans-Rockland connection. He still argues that the province owes the munici- palities help for the roads. “We gotta start putting more pressure on the government,” he said, “to either put moremoney into it (174/17) or take it back.” The next public consultation on the 174/17 EA process will take place later this spring.
The final decision is not in yet on the fu- ture for the Highway 174/County Road 17 connection betweenRockland andOrléans. But the odds still favour the long-standing option of creating a four-lane highway link between the two communities. But that does not have to mean creating a super highway link between the two com- munities, according to Angela Taylor, senior project engineer for the City of Ottawa. “Yes, we are looking at widening the 174/17,” Taylor said during an interview, following a Thursday night open house in Rockland. “It will not be a super highway.” The three-hour-longmeeting on February 5 was the third in a series of three during the past week involving officials for the City of Ottawa, the United Counties of Prescott-Rus- sell and consultant and engineering firms involved in the environmental assessment reviews of both the 174-17 four-laning pro- posal and Ottawa’s planned eastern exten- sion of its light rail transit (LRT) project up to the TrimRoad intersection of Highway 174. Two other public information sessions were held Tuesday and Wednesday evenings in Orléans and Cumberland village. Both projects are undergoing environ- mental assessment reviews (EA).The one for the Highway 174/County Road 17 has had its timeline extended because results of the planned LRT extension east to Orléans will have an effect on any future changes to the 34-kilometre highway link between Orléans and Rockland. Right now, Ottawa’s city planners have to
decide whether the LRT extension to Orléans will follow the existing 174 route down the middle of the highway between the existing east- and west-bound lanes of traffic, or will the track and its stations go on one or the other sides of the highway. David Hopper, one of the engineering consultants working on the LRT extension project, noted that the centre route is the “Goldilocks solution” because it is “just right”, meeting all the needs for rider access to the various pickup and drop-off stations along the proposed route while, at the same time, creating the least interference with any future widening plans for the existing highway and also the least interference with the existing side-road interchanges onto the highway. “We believe we have a very robust solu- tion,” said Hopper. “We believe we have a right solution for an LRT extension west of Trim Road.” He noted that some widening could be possible for the existing four-lane setup for Highway 174 to allow an extra high-occupan- cy vehicle (HOV) lane west of the TrimRoad intersection to both help serve commuter traffic connections with the LRT extension and continue to reduce the number of solo drivers making the trip in and out of Ottawa. With the Highway 174/County Road 17 project, changing the existing route from two-lane traffic to four-lane remains the fa- voured option. Other alternatives, like crea- ting an alternate two-lane commuter route by extending Baseline Road in Rockland and
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