The 407 East Environmental Assessment (EA) has moved forward, presenting its Technically Preferred Route (TPR) for the proposed extension of Highway 407 from Brock Road in Pickering to Highway 35/115 north of Kirby. At Public Information Centre (PIC) #4 – drop-in format presentations held at various locations across the proposed route from June 24 to July 8 — refinements were recommended to the Technically Recommended Route presented at PIC #3 in June/July 2007.
“Most of the changes we are making are reducing the impact of the 407,” said Will Mackenzie, Information Officer for Ontario’s Ministry of Transportation, at PIC #4 in Oshawa on June 25th. “You aim large, and when you get there, you bring it down in size,” he said of the route refinements.
PIC #4 included recommendations for local road closures and realignments, as well as for the locations of interchanges, grade separations, stormwater ponds, and transitway stations along the 407 corridor.
Interchanges, which allow access on and off of the 407, were proposed at Regional Road 57, and at Darlington-Clarke Townline Rd. Mackenzie noted the preferred alternative to the interchange at Regional Road 57 makes a smaller footprint, based on 55m radius inner loop ramps instead of the 90m radius inner loop ramps designed in the first alternative.
PIC #4 showed the design alternatives to the Darlington-Clarke Townline Rd. interchange involved an interchange at Bethesda Rd. According to the EA, these alternatives were rejected due to the better interchange spacing between Regional Rd. 57 and Hwy. 35/115, and reduced impacts to social, economic and cultural environments, at Darlington-Clarke Townline Rd.
Due to the interchange at Darlington-Clarke Townline Rd., the southern end of Browns Road will also be closed, but it will get a connection over to Darlington-Clarke Townline Rd. just north of the 407. Concession Rd. 7 will be realigned south between Nixon Rd. and Darlington-Clarke Townline Rd.
Representatives of the highway have contacted property owners – such as those on Browns Rd. — whose property lies in the path of the refined TPR 407 route, according to Mackenzie. “To the best of our knowledge, we’ve notified everyone affected,” he said.
Route refinements were also made along the East Durham link, which will run north south to connect the 407 to Highway 401, shifting the interchange 50m to the west at Highway 2 west of Solina Rd., and shifting the interchange 70m to the east at Taunton Rd. and Rundle Rd.
East of the East Durham link, local road closures were recommended at Rundle Rd., Cedar Park Rd., Middle Rd., Acres Rd., Cole Rd. and Nixon Rd. While Cole Rd. and Acres Rd. will be closed just south of the 407, it is proposed that a connecting road be built between them. To go north of the 407 from Cole Rd. or Acres Rd., one would then have to go over to either Bethesda Rd. or Darlington-Clarke Townline Rd.
A Commercial Vehicle Inspection Facility for westbound traffic has been proposed between Bethesda Rd. and Cole Rd. at Acres Rd., on the north side of the 407. “That is the potential site. It is not carved in stone,” said Mackenzie, noting the TPR is still subject to refinement and possible changes.
Grade separations, which do not connect local roads to the 407, but rather allow side roads to pass over or under the highway, were recommended for Liberty Rd. (overpass), Bethesda Rd. (overpass), Leskard Rd. (underpass) and Best Rd. (overpass).
It is recommended that Leskard Rd. pass under the 407 to allow for a bridge to cross Wilmot Creek, according to Mackenzie. To accommodate the bridge at the creek crossing, it has been recommended that a section of Leskard Rd., just north of Concession Rd. 7, be realigned to the west.
“It is not an unusual thing,” said Mackenzie. “Leskard Rd. will move slightly to the west. We will build the realigned section first. That way we don’t have to close Leskard Rd. while we are building.”
A transitway corridor, for future mass transit use, is also being assessed to run alongside the 407 Mainline. The width of the 407 corridor will include 110m for the highway, and another 60m for the transitway. According to Mackenzie, the existing 407 from Burlington to Brock Rd. in Pickering, is looking at how the transitway might be built, and has the land already protected.
“In all likelihood, it may start as a two-lane road for buses only, and maintenance only. Local transit could feed into it, with car-pool parking lots. Eventually, with so many buses on the road, it might turn into light rail,” said Mackenzie.
“We are allowing for it,” he said of the transitway designs in the 407 East EA. “We are not preparing to build it right now. Much of the environmental work we are doing will be applicable to the transitway, but it is an implementation issue. The decision is made at a higher level.”
According to the EA, the transitway corridor is situated on the south side of the 407 Mainline, and on the west side of the East Durham Link. Transitway stations are recommended at most interchange locations, including the Darlington-Clarke Townline Rd. interchange.
Two stormwater ponds are recommended in the area, one to be located south of the 407 between Cole Rd. and Darlington-Clarke Townline Rd., and the other to be located southeast of the 407 underpass at Leskard Rd.
No noise mitigation measures were indicated in the Orono area as it does not meet the requirements, according to Mackenzie.
The EA is seeking approval for ten lanes for the 407 Mainline from Brock Rd. to Harmony Rd. in Oshawa, eight lanes from Harmony Rd. to the East Durham Link, and six lanes from the East Durham Link to Hwy. 35/115.
The connection of the 407 corridor to Hwy. 35/115 will no longer be a freeway-to-freeway connection, according to PIC #4. Instead, a trumpet interchange (with two overpasses coming onto Hwy. 35/115) has been recommended, located north of Kirby between Concession Rd. 7 and Concession Rd. 8. A transitway station is planned for north of the interchange.
“We are dropping the whole idea of bringing the 407 up to the 35/115 for now, with a study later to look at what will be needed in the future,” said Mackenzie. “If we did bring it up to the 35/115, it would have an incredible impact on the traffic on the 35/115. It’s what is called a ‘constructability’ issue.”
According to the EA literature, the 407 East EA will not include improvements to Hwy. 35/115 from Concession Rd. 8 to the split, and to Hwy. 35 from the split to County Rd. 20. The study revealed several unique challenges for these portions of highway, “specifically, the rolling topography, environmental sensitivities of the Oak Ridges Moraine, impacts to businesses on Hwy. 35/115, impacts to the local road network, and constructability”.
It was determined a separate EA would be undertaken for the 35/115 corridor at a future date to address issues such as the operational and geometric deficiencies of the highway, the interchange at Hwy. 35/115, local road improvements, commuter parking, wildlife crossings and snow drifting. Inquiries made to the Ministry, regarding whether these issues suggest plans to upgrade Hwy. 35/115 to a 400-series highway, had not received a reply at press time.
PIC #4 will also be held on Tuesday, July 8th, from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Peterborough Public Library, 345 Aylmer St. North in Peterborough.
Following PIC #4, the project team will review comments, finalize the TPR, conduct impact assessments for the recommended design, identify mitigation and compensation measures, prepare for a Community Value Plan workshop to be held in the fall, contact all directly impacted property owners and prepare for the PIC #5.
PIC #5 will be the final round of PICs, and it is scheduled for Fall 2008. The final EA report will be submitted to the Ministry of Environment in Spring 2009.
More information and maps of the TPR are available through the website at www.407eastea.com. The 407 East EA Project Team can also be reached by phone toll-free at 1-866-840-5529, by fax at 905-668-0221, and by mail c/o TSH, 300 Water St., Whitby, ON L1N 9J2. Comments should be submitted by August 19th, 2008.