Queen’s Park trip involves talking about expanding EC Row, new 401 interchange

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Expanding EC Row Expressway, new interchanges at EC Row / Banwell Road and 401 / Lauzon Road, and doubling Ojibway Prairie Provincial Nature Reserve into the proposed urban national park are some of the ambitious proposals that Mayor Drew Dilkens was pushing in Queen’s Park this week.

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“Because we do not have a seat at the government table (there are no progressive conservative MPPs), it is up to all community leaders to advocate for the things our region needs. I take it very seriously, ”the Mayor of Windsor said Thursday, following a full-day meeting Wednesday with government officials and before a conference Friday with Ontario Infrastructure leaders to discuss continued support for the $ 2 billion megaproject. His trip focused on a one-day session on solutions to the affordable housing crisis on Thursday, but was canceled at the last minute due to growing concerns about COVID-19.

He also spoke with officials from IESO, the province’s Independent Electricity System Operator, on Wednesday about concerns about the electricity supply: whether there will be enough to address future demands from new employers that the city is pursuing as part of its Windsor Works economic diversification strategy. Dilkens said he heard of plans on the near horizon involving new transmission lines and other infrastructure to support not only Windsor, but also the growing greenhouse industry in Leamington / Kingsville.

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“I was very comforted after that meeting, that the plan is in place, that by 2025 in our region we should be fine for about a decade,” said the mayor.

“I tell you, I was very relieved after that meeting because we have big plans and electricity is one thing that could stop us.”

Ontario Transportation Minister Caroline Mulroney in a Jan. 16, 2020, file photo.
Ontario Transportation Minister Caroline Mulroney in a Jan. 16, 2020, file photo. Photo from Postmedia News /Windsor Star

In meeting with Transportation Minister Caroline Mulroney, Dilkens said her intention was to highlight the large highway projects Windsor is planning that are regionally important, expensive and difficult to finance for the city alone. The EC Row expansion was one of his election promises in 2018. It was originally designed to accommodate four lanes in each direction, he said.

“We are approaching peak capacity,” so it is time to start planning for future expansion, he said.

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“It is important to Windsor and the economic future of Windsor, but I pointed out to the minister that it is also a highway that was unloaded to the municipality (from the province) that also serves LaSalle and Lakeshore and Tecumseh.”

There is no estimate of what such a major expansion would cost.

“It is going to be extremely expensive and it will take a while, but if no one proposes it, we are going to have a problem (traffic congestion) before we have a solution,” said the mayor. “So now is the time to have the discussion.”

Another expensive project the city would like help with is the Lauzon corridor improvement, which has a full environmental assessment that envisions realigning the city’s most dangerous intersection at Lauzon and County Road 42, and continuing Lauzon south to 401 A new interchange at 401, as well as a new interchange at EC Row / Banwell, would both be very expensive, Dilkens said, noting that only the realignment of Lauzon / County Road 42, with which the city is moving forward in the next few years, it’s going to cost more than $ 24 million. Speaking with provincial officials on Wednesday, they told the mayor that a clover leaf in 401 would cost about $ 100 million, although there are less expensive alternatives.

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The Lauzon project, including the 401 interchange, is important to Windsor’s economic development, as well as county residents driving to the new hospital at County Road 42, Dilkens said.

“It’s not just me with a cap in hand, I’m really trying to understand with the minister and her team, how do we get traction in a project like this that brings a greater benefit to the region and how do we plan it? “

The EC Row / Banwell interchange, to replace the high collision signposted intersection, will cost between $ 30 million and $ 40 million. And unlike other large projects like the city’s Cabana Road improvements that cost about $ 50 million, it can’t be phased out over eight years to lighten the financial burden, he said.

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Dilkens also spoke with officials from the Ministry of the Environment about the urban natural park.

Federal Liberals announced in August their plan to create a national urban park in Windsor from the 865-acre Ojiway Prairie Complex, comprised of six wilderness areas, including the provincial reserve.

“They have a fundamental piece,” Dilkens said of the province’s reserve. “It’s literally across the street from the Ojibway Nature Center” and connects to the Spring Garden nature area on the other side of Malden Road. Dilkens said the purpose of their meeting was to encourage them to join the discussion about creating the new national park.

“And they are very receptive to that,” he said. “They see the greater good in putting all those pieces together.”

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Reference-windsorstar.com

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