Let O-Train dictate Airport Parkway plans, activists urge
Word that the Airport Parkway widening has been delayed until the 2020s gives activists hope that expanded O-Train ridership will cancel the project altogether.
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Sustainable transportation activists are welcoming word that the Airport Parkway won’t be widened until at least 2020 – and possibly not until 2025.
The $85-million widening project between Brookfield Road and the airport has been delayed because development charges fell short in 2015, according to a memo sent to councillors in November.
Instead of getting $43 to $45 million from developers each year, the city can now only count on about $26 million a year for roads, planning manager Michael Mizzi wrote.
The project’s first phase, which would ease congestion between Brookfield and Hunt Club roads, is now scheduled for sometime between 2020 and 2025.
That’s good news for activists who want to see the nearby O-Train’s southern expansion up and running first.
“They should be building out the public transportation system and waiting to see what impact that build-out has,” said Trevor Haché with the Healthy Transportation Coalition.
The O-Train is scheduled for expansion to Bowesville Road near Riverside South as part of the second stage of the city’s light rail plans by 2023. That timeline now aligns perfectly with the Airport Parkway project, and Haché said his group now has a second chance to convince the city to wait and see.
River Coun. Riley Brockington is on his side, at least. Brockington said it “makes no sense” for the city to spend millions on a road without first knowing how driving habits might change.
“There will be an even greater battle to convince people to take the O-Train” if that happens, Brockington said.
He’s meeting with his fellow south-end council colleagues next week to discuss the issue, but he doesn’t expect everyone to agree with him – and the widening will almost certainly remain off the table.
“There is no decision to cancel the project,” he said.
An environmental assessment for the widening is already underway.