A new Transitway? City to debate $148M rapid-bus Baseline corridor

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A new rapid-transit line along Baseline Road could inch closer to reality this week after city councillors vote at a committee meeting Wednesday whether to give staff the green light to begin in-depth planning of the project.

The $148-million vision is to construct two bus-only lanes down the centre of Baseline Road, starting with the 14-kilometre section between the existing Heron Transitway station and Baseline station near Algonquin College.

 

Baseline Road would be widened to six lanes in most sections, with bus traffic separated from other vehicles.

The project, envisioned to be built within 15 years, has been part of the city’s transportation master plan since 2012. This week, city staff are requesting approval of the project’s functional design as well as permission to launch an environmental assessment that’s needed before any construction can start.

The second phase of the project would be implemented after 2031 and extend the bus rapid transit line further west from Baseline station to Bayshore station at an additional cost of $140 million.

The City’s transportation master plan, as well as studies specific to the BRT proposal, say there will be sufficient need for improvements along the corridor in the coming years. The report estimates the average transit rider using the corridor would save 11 minutes of travel time during peak hours if the BRT were implemented.

The report quotes the concerns of various city councillors, including Coun. Rick Chiarelli, who says the distance between stops, such as at Baseline and Clyde, is problematic for senior citizens and those with mobility issues.