The fifth and final round of Public Information Centres (PIC#5) for the 407 East Environmental Assessment and Preliminary Design Plans wrapped up yesterday in Oshawa, following a week of sessions that began at the Garnet B. Rickard Recreation Complex in Bowmanville on Jan. 27.
A technically preferred route (TPR) for the 407 transportation corridor was presented at PIC #4 in June 2008. The recommended design for the TPR extends from the current terminus of Highway 407 at Brock Rd. in Pickering to Hwy. 35/115 in Clarington (approx. 50 km), and includes two north-south freeway links (the West link in Whitby; the East link in Clarington) connecting Hwy. 401 to the proposed 407 extension (approx. 10 km each), and space for a future transitway (including 17 transitway stations).
The proposed support facilities include two highway maintenance facilities (at Salem Rd. and at Regional Rd. 57), two transitway maintenance facilities (at Lake Ridge Rd. and at Simcoe St.), two commercial vehicle inspection facilities (at Salem Rd. and at Bethesda Rd.) , and truck lay-bys (north of Taunton Rd. on the West link, and at Bloor St. on the East link).
PIC #5 presented refinements to the TPR, with most of the new information relating to watercourse crossing treatments (locations of bridges, and culverts), storm management measures, “environment impact” assessments, potential mitigation measures, and the recommended Community Value Plan. This PIC also presented information on the property acquisition process and on the next steps in the project.
The 407 East Environmental Assessment (EA) is seeking approval for lane requirements projected for the year 2031. This includes ten lanes for the 407 mainline from Brock Rd. to Harmony Rd. in Oshawa, eight lanes for the 407 mainline from Harmony Rd. to the East link, six lanes for the 407 mainline from the East link to Hwy. 35/115, and six lanes each for the West link and the East link.
According to PIC #5, a closed median (concrete barrier; storm sewer system in median) is planned for the ten-lane and eight-lane sections. An open median (no concrete barrier; ditches in median) is planned for the six-lane sections, including the 407 mainline from the East link to Hwy. 35/115. The designs include a minimum right-of-way width of 110 m for the highway corridor, and 60 m for the transitway corridor.
Proposed sidewalks and/or bike lanes for roads crossing the 407 are mostly located on urban roads in the west sections of the mainline. The most easterly location of a sidewalk is proposed at the interchange at Reg. Rd. 57. At the remaining crossing road structures, the shoulder area will accommodate pedestrian and cyclist movements, according to PIC #5 material.
“If there’s a sidewalk there on that road, where we put in a bridge, then we have to put a sidewalk on the bridge. But, if it’s a road that does not have a sidewalk, then we don’t have to put a sidewalk on the bridge,” explained MTO Information Officer Will MacKenzie, at PIC #5 in Bowmanville.
Design plans presented at PIC #5 illustrated cross sections of roads, depicting the various dimensions for different sizes of overpasses and underpasses. “These are typical,” said MTO Project Manager Dan Remollino. “These actually show what a cross section we’re proposing will look like.” Photographs of typical structures over a local road, and over a highway corridor, were also part of the presentation. The presentation boards from PIC #5 can be viewed on the project website at www.407eastea.com.
According to PIC #5, a stormwater management strategy has been developed for the corridor to address quality treatment, quantity treatment, and erosion control requirements. The strategy takes into consideration the ultimate conditions (2031 lane requirements and the transitway) as well as groundwater levels in the area. Approximately 65 stormwater management ponds are proposed along the 407 extension route.
The recommended design also includes approximately 85 watercourse crossings. According to PIC #5 material on watercourse crossings, the design requires a number of stream realignments that will result in the harmful alteration, disruption or destruction of fish habitat at a number of stream crossings. The study’s Natural Environment Impact Assessment addresses mitigation measures, including practices to protect natural areas surrounding construction zones, and timing restrictions to protect fish and wildlife during sensitive periods. The study proposes maintaining “fish habitat through structures, preferably by providing natural substrate and channel form through open culverts,” and employing “natural channel design principles in designing watercourse realignments.”
A number of culverts along the eastern section of the mainline are proposed to cross local tributaries of Soper Creek and Wilmot Creek. The locations of these culverts, as well as bridges and stormwater management ponds, were presented at PICV #5, as follows.
Just west of Bethesda Rd., running under Hwy. 407, there will be a culvert at a tributary of Soper Creek, with wildlife passage provided through the culvert. South of the 407, on the west side of Bethesda Rd., is a potential site for a stormwater management pond. At Bethesda Rd. there will be a bridge over the 407. And just east of Bethesda Rd., there will be a culvert at a Soper Creek tributary.
East of Acres Rd., on the north side of the 407, a proposed commercial vehicle inspection facility is indicated. To the east of Cole Rd., there are two potential sites for stormwater management ponds, one on either side of East Soper Creek as it runs south of the 407. The 407 will bridge over the East Soper Creek, with wildlife passage located under the bridges.
At Darlington-Clarke Townline Rd., the road will be a bridge over the 407. In this area, there will be two culverts over Soper Creek tributaries: one at Darlington-Clarke Townline Rd., north of the 407; and one on the proposed connecting road between the townline road and Brown Rd. A transitway station is proposed below Brown Rd., south of the 407.
East of Brown Rd., there will be a culvert at a tributary of Wilmot Creek, with wildlife passage provided through the culvert. Another culvert is planned at the access road proposed north of Con. Rd. 7 between Brown Rd. and Leskard Rd.
There is a potential site for a stormwater management pond to the west of the access road, just north of Con. Rd. 7, south of the 407. Then the 407 will bridge over Wilmot Creek where it runs to the west of Leskard Rd., with a wildlife passage located under the bridges. The 407 will also bridge over Leskard Rd., which will be realigned slightly to the west of its present location in the area of the proposed bridge. A separate culvert for wildlife crossing will be located to the east of the realigned Leskard Rd., putting the culvert where Leskard Rd. now stands.
There will be two culverts at tributaries of Wilmot Creek on the west side of Best Rd. Best Rd. will bridge over the 407, with a potential site for a stormwater management pond on the east side of Best Rd., south of the 407. As the highway progresses east, there will be eight more culverts at tributaries of Wilmot Creek, under the various on and off ramps and mainline at Hwy. 35/115.
There will be two ramp bridges over Hwy. 35/115, with potential sites for stormwater management ponds nearby. North of the Hwy. 35/115 interchange is a proposed transitway station.
Illumination requirements for the year 2031 are projected to entail only partial illumination from Reg. Rd. 57 through to Best Rd., with full illumination at the Hwy. 35/115 interchange. The initial illumination requirements on opening day have yet to be determined, according to the study.
PIC #5 also presented information on the Socio-Economic Environment Impact Assessment, addressing land use, agriculture, waste and property contamination, air quality and noise. A detailed noise assessment of the 407 corridor identified two locations where noise mitigation was determined to be warranted. One location was on the north side of the 407 in the vicinity of Brooklin. The other location was on the south side of the 407 in the vicinity of Hampton (west of Reg. Rd. 57).
The study also completed a Cultural Environment Impact Assessment, including archaeological and cultural heritage resources. Findings from pedestrian surveys and test pitting have included historic Euro-Canadian sites and pre-contact Aboriginal sites. Findings for Cultural Heritage resources have included farm complexes, individual residences, religious and institutional buildings, cemeteries and agricultural structures. The majority of work associated with archaeological and cultural heritage resources will be completed in future phases of work for the 407 corridor, after EA submission.
PIC #5 presented the recommended Community Value Plan (CVP), in which individuals from the community participated in workshops to identify community values and features, and to develop mitigation measures. The CVP included Architecture (design features on bridges) and Local Heritage (proposed community signage) features west of Reg. Rd. 57 at Hampton, and also at Leskard Rd. The CVP also featured a separate wildlife crossing (accommodating larger wildlife, including deer) west of Leskard Rd., with agricultural fencing to funnel wildlife through the culvert.
According to Remollino, the CVP provides some conceptual ideas of what the corridor might look like in the future. “I think what you’ll see in this area, because it’s in the Greenbelt, are some enhanced landscaping, some plantings that fit in with the Greenbelt, and the rural sort of atmosphere out here,” he said.
The PIC also addressed property requirements, noting that amicable property purchases are being considered on a case-by-case basis. Negotiations are carried out on a market value basis with property appraised by two independent appraisers.
Once the EA is approved, all property owners directly impacted will be notified and all properties required will be appraised. “We’ll do appraisals on all the properties, and once we have an [EA] approval, then we can make offers. If offers are refused, then we may consider starting the expropriation process,” said Remollino.
“When possible, we negotiate,” added MacKenzie. “We would rather have people say at the end of the day, ‘Okay, I’m satisfied. I have no complaints.’ We would prefer that, and so we try to negotiate with people before we go the route of expropriation.” According to Remollino, close to 600 property owners are directly impacted along the proposed 70 km of highway.
Comments regarding PIC #5 should be submitted to the project team by March 23, 2009, c/o TSH, 300 Water St., Whitby, Ontario L1N 9J2. Following PIC #5, the project team will be preparing to submit the final EA report to the Ministry of the Environment, and also to submit a Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency Screening Report. The team plans to submit the EA reports in July 2009. “We are planning on summer 2009 for our submission,” said Remollino. “When the approval will happen is out of our control. We’re hoping that it’s sooner rather than later.”
According to MacKenzie, the 407 East extension will be completed in the year 2013. “We are still targeting for 2013 completion. That was the agreement that was made with the federal government,” he said. “The minister of transportation announced it is going to be a toll road, but it’s going to be the province setting and collecting the tolls.”
“Our focus is really on the EA,” said Remollino. “Until you have EA approval, implementation is really nowhere. So our focus is to make sure that we’ve consulted, we’ve gotten the input, that we can finalize the design, that we can finalize the environmental assessment. And hopefully, once it’s submitted, we can get both the provincial and federal approvals that are required. The details – how it’s going to be built, who’s going to build it, and so forth – will be worked out in due time. I wouldn’t want to speculate.”