After years of inaction the process of widening HWY 174 has been accelerated by at least 4 years.
Cumberland Councilor Stephen Blais began the process last year when City Council passed his motion to conduct an Environmental Assessment (EA) to widen HWY 174. The additional $1 million offered today from the province will accelerate the widening of HWY 174 through Orléans.
“This is a great day for Orléans & Cumberland residents,” says Blais. “For too long east end commuters have been left to idle in congestion. By accelerating the process we’ll be able to reduce commute times sooner.”
In 2008, the provincial and federal governments each offered $40 million to begin widening HWY 174. The dithering Council of the day rejected the funds and left Orléans and Cumberland commuters to sit in traffic.
“An iron curtain on investment that once existed at the Green Belt is finally beginning to rise,” adds Blais. “By focusing on priorities, like reducing commute times, we are ensuring Orléans and Cumberland residents get better value for the taxes they pay each year.”
The previous City Council passed a Transportation Master Plan that would not have seen the environmental assessment on HWY 174 begin until at least 2016 – and then only from “The Split” to Jeanne d’Arc.
The study called for by Blais will look at expanding HWY 174 to six lanes between “The Split” and Trim Road. The EA will also look to expand HWY 174 from two to four lanes between Trim Road and the city’s border with Rockland (United Counties of Prescott-Russell). Additionally, the EA will look at the possibility of an interchange at Trim Road and HWY 174.
The EA will be funded with $5 million from the provincial government.
Presently, 60 per cent of Orléans and Cumberland commuters who work downtown use OC Transpo. Yet the average speed, on this 100 KM/h highway, during morning rush hour is 40 KM/h.
“The 174 is a fundamental transportation link and important to future growth in the East End,” adds Blais. “Despite Orléans and Cumberland residents embracing public transit like no other community, commute times are only getting longer. The completion of HWY 174 will significantly reduce commute times for our residents.”