Province inches closer to Highway 417 expansion west of downtown Ottawa

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Highway 417 will be expanded along Carlington and Westboro, with four years of construction expected to start in 2017.

By Dylan C. Robertson

On Monday, the provincial and federal governments announced they’d be splitting the cost of upgrading a three-kilometre stretch of the highway. The Trans-Canada will go from six to eight lanes between Maitland Avenue and Island Park Drive.

“The province’s commitment is to keep the three existing lanes open to traffic at peak times during construction,” Karina Kim, a spokeswoman for Ontario’ Infrastructure Minister Bob Chiarelli, told Metro.

Both levels of governments are contributing up to $47.57 million each. The province claims the extension “will improve safety and traffic flow for all highway users … by helping to reduce traffic congestion.”

Ottawa South member of Parliament David McGuinty said it’s part of an $180 billion federal infrastructure program that spans 12 years and everything from highways to public transit.

“This has to be seen in a wider context,” McGuinty said. “It’s a balance, and we’ve got to navigate between cars, transit, bikes, highways.” He hinted there may be federal funding for projects out near Orleans once the province sets infrastructure plans.

“We have to be looking 80 or 100 years into the future,” he said, noting the region’s rising population.

Monday’s announced extension includes the Merivale Road Bridge, next to the Westgate Shopping Centre. Bridges along the corridor were constructed in 1959 and rehabilitated in 1983. The province has upgraded some of them in recent years.

Just west of Monday’s announced extension, ongoing construction continues from Maitland Road west to Carling Avenue. Crews are working to similarly expand the six lanes to eight, until an expected 2020 completion. That project includes repairing overpasses and sound barriers.

The province has spent more than $590 million into the highway since 2003, including the ongoing widening between Nicholas and the Highway 174 split, to accommodate LRT construction.

This article originally appeared in Metro News.