Although no roads have been closed yet, the Region of Waterloo is holding a meeting on Jun.16 to discuss whether roads should temporarily close in the near future for this spring’s road-building works.
Each year, the Region of Waterloo invests in several road construction projects. These include works that will facilitate active transportation in the Kitchener-Waterloo area as well as new infrastructure, reconstruction and widening.
“The traffic loads are much less right now, and we want to take advantage of creating more space. In some respects, it is to deal with the need for more active transport facilities for cycling and pedestrians, but it is also to deal with the social distancing requirement where people that are out biking and walking need to have more space to properly distance themselves,” Tom Galloway, Chair of Planning and Works for the Region of Waterloo, said.
Although COVID-19 is the immediate issue the region wants to address, the Region of Waterloo had been considering creating more space for active transportation for some time.
Increasing pedestian space on a number of regional roads had been on the table before the pandemic. So, there are two considerations driving this year’s road-building program.
“It’s part of the regular construction program,” Galloway said.
The City of Waterloo is already going ahead with some construction activities on their streets, but the city hasn’t started on regional roads yet.
This is because regional roads are more challenging, as they carry a lot more traffic and are typically about four lanes wide.
The Region of Waterloo has already started investing in bicycle lanes and multi-use paths. They’re working on Weber St. in Waterloo, Ottawa St. in Kitchener, and Homer Watson Boulevard in Kitchener this year, where they will be building facilities.
Although construction will occur, none of the streets will be closed.
Until the scheduled meeting takes place on June 16, it is unclear whether the construction works, currently underway, will focus on regional roads or city streets. However, it is more likely that the Waterloo Region’s construction projects for this year will focus on regional roads such as King Street, Westmount Road, and University Avenue.
Should these streets be closed on a temporary or possibly a semi-permanent basis? That’s what will be discussed in the June 16 discussion session.