A $20 billion high-speed rail corridor from Windsor to Toronto was originally planned by the previous Liberal government but instead the Torie's draft plan is focusing on bolstering inter-community rail service. Capacity on existing rail lines will be increased by working with Via Rail on offering train service jointly with Go Transit. The province also plans to work with freight line operators to improve track access for passenger trains per The London Free Press.
The Progressive Conservative government has put out a 22-page draft document that highlights more than 40 ways to improve connections in the region.
"Southwestern Ontario matters. Encouraging economic growth, supporting the creation of good, well-paying jobs and building strong connections between communities in Southwestern Ontario matters."
Transportation Minister | Caroline Mulroney
The plan has many good features but Sarnia Mayor Mike Bradley stated that lack of access to the GTA is one weakness in the plan. He noticed that even with reference to the rail, everything seems to end in London.
The draft plan even includes strategies to help Southwestern Ontario prepare for a future including driverless cars.
The report calls for the creation of an "Innovation Corridor" on Highway 401 between London and Tilbury to provide a testing ground for new technology, including road features and pavement markings that could help driverless vehicles navigate.
Other actions include assessing airport capacity in the region and supporting the commercial trucking industry, including re-purposing an old inspection station on Highway 402 into parking.
Actual timelines are missing from this report and Long-Fanshawe NDP MPP Teresa Armstrong stated that Southwestern Ontarians are waiting on a regional transportation plan with actual dates to put shovels in the ground.
The draft also includes several previously announced transportation projects such as the widening of Highway 3 to four lanes between Essex and Leamington.
Friday's announcement comes nearly a year after the province earmarked $11.65 million for inter-community transit projects in Lambton Shores, Middlesex County, Strathroy Caradoc, Chatham-Kent, Grey County, Perth County, Stratford and Tillsonburg.
In the Ford government's inaugural budget last April, the province committed to expanding Highway 401 to six lanes from four along a 128-kilometre section between London and Tilbury. Concrete median barriers will be installed along the stretch, a feature road safety advocates have been pushing for after years of deadly cross-over crashes.
Public input on this document is encouraged through an online survey available until March 17.
Posted by Judy Lamelza