The future of Ontario’s roads
By Jayson Koblun
May 27, 2013, London, Ont. – With nearly $2.4 billion spent
on highway construction in Ontario in 2012, road builders in the province were
busy last year. According to officials from the Ministry of Transportation,
that level of work is likely to be sustained by work needed on the already
constructed road infrastructure.
"Rehabilitation work looks healthy moving forward," said
Michael Plant, the head of program planning for MTO – West Region.
The West Region highway network currently includes 443
bridges, many of which need to be either rehabilitated or replaced. As a
result, the region has made proposals for more than 100 bridge-related road
projects from 2014 to 2020.
The focus of the West Region has shifted primarily to its
core assets: pavements and bridges. The demand for improvements to the current
infrastructure outweighs the need for highway expansion in much of the area.
Even with the current funding being provided by the provincial government,
there is still a shortfall to fix the highway network already in place.
"Needs Funding represents over $300M of additional funding
in West Region over the next five years."
In 2012, the West Region of the MTO received $198 million
for highway construction from the provincial government. That number included
$54 million for expansion of the highway network, and $144 million for
rehabilitation. In 2013, the region has $60 million in carry over work, plus more
than $150 million in new rehabilitation work to be tendered this year.
In spite of all of the money being focused on rehabilitation
projects, there is still work expected to help meet the needs of expanding
traffic patterns in the region. One of the biggest road expansion projects
announced as part of the 2013/14 Ontario budget, is the expansion of Highway
401 from Highway 8 to Highway 24 in Kitchener-Waterloo. That project will see
the widening of that stretch of highway from six lanes to ten lanes.
With solid provincial funding for the rehabilitation of
Ontario roads, and the need to expand the current infrastructure to keep up
with population growth, the future looks positive for Ontario roadbuilders.