Frequently Asked Questions
Regarding Proposed Four Laning in the Highway 69 Corridor
Why has the Ministry of Transportation made the four laning of Highway 69 a priority?
As a gateway to Northern Ontario, as a strategic link in the Trans-Canada Highway System, and as the main local commuter route, use of Highway 69 has grown steadily in recent decades.
Four laning of Highway 69 will provide improved travel times between Northern and southern Ontario; improve access to serviced areas, allowing for continued growth of northern industry and the tourism and recreational sectors; and most importantly, improve the safety of the corridor by providing a controlled access, divided roadway.
When was the decision made to four lane Highway 69?
Since The Muskoka Area Study of 1972, the MTO has regarded the four laning of the Port Severn-Parry Sound corridor as a priority for future highway improvements.
The goal of developing and maintaining a transportation network that supports job creation, facilitates tourism, trade, and commerce, and allows people to travel our highways safely has led the MTO to focus on its current program of four laning.
Construction northerly from Port Severn has been ongoing since 1994.
To hasten construction, the provincial government announced on July 8, 1997 a commitment of $170 million over five years for the expansion of Highways 11 and 69.
Why has construction been concentrated between Port Severn and Parry Sound?
Priority has been given to extending the existing four lane roadway north of Port Severn to the Parry Sound Area because that is the area of greatest need based on traffic volumes, congestion, and accident occurrence within the Highway 69 corridor.
For example, the average daily number of vehicles using Highway 69 south of Parry Sound during the summer of 1999 was 12, 000. North of Parry Sound, the figure was 7,800 vehicles per day during the same period.
How was the proposed route determined?
MTO staff, in consultation with the public, determined the most technically preferred route that would minimize any potential natural, social, economic, or cultural impacts associated with highway improvements. This included an investigation along the proposed route to determine whether it would encounter or disrupt archaeological or heritage sites, water bodies, fisheries, or wildlife. Noise levels were also examined. The process of route selection adhered to the requirements of the Environmental Assessment Act and was approved by the Ministry of the Environment in 1997.
Since 1985, Ministry of Transportation personnel have hosted over forty-six public information sessions, both locally and in Toronto, to present planning study updates and receive public feedback. More than 5,650 local residents, property owners, business owners, community groups, and municipal representatives have participated in the consultation process.
What happens to homes located along the proposed route?
Although the proposed route is selected to minimize any impact to local residents, inevitably some properties are required to allow four laning to proceed. Those directly affected by the proposed roadway are compensated at fair market value for their property.
How do you minimize impacts to local residents during construction?
Local residents are often concerned about the potential increase of noise and dust near the construction site. Contractors hired by the MTO to build the new highway are required to protect affected residents during the construction period. Measures include specification of the daily hours of operation, to minimize noise levels and treating gravel roads to prevent excessive dust.
How do you ensure the smooth flow of traffic while the highway is upgraded?
In order to reduce traffic delays through the construction zone, contractors hired by the MTO face restrictions on the number and duration of operations that are likely to cause traffic queues.
How will municipalities along the highway be impacted by four laning?
To avoid existing concentrations of development along the Highway 69 corridor, a decision was taken during the planning phase to construct by-passes around several communities. However, interchanges will be located at the entrances of by-passed communities to provide convenient access to the four lane highway, while increasing safety in built-up areas along the existing roadway.
Decorative municipal identification displays and area profile signs will also help ensure that by-passed towns maintain a visible presence on the four lane highway. Such communities often find that with successful marketing strategies, there is a significant increase in opportunities for economic development associated with the shorter travel times and increased safety of a four lane highway.
How much does four laning cost?
On average, it costs $5 million per km to build a four lane highway in Northern Ontario. The proposed four laning of Highway 69 represents a significant investment in northern infrastructure and economic development.
What is the status of four laning along Highway 69?
Four laning currently extends 26 km northward from Port Severn to the Musquash River. In the Parry Sound Area, construction on a 5 km section from Badger Road northerly to Highway 518 began in November 1999, while work on the 5 km section north of Highway 518 to the Seguin River began in February 2000. Both of these sections are on new alignment and are expected to be complete by fall 2001. Two new projects, a 26.5 km section from Tower Road near MacTier to 2.7 km north of Highway 141 and a 4 km section from 2.7 km north of Highway 141 to Badger Road were announced on February 7, 2000. Construction on both jobs should begin in fall 2000, with the 26.5 km section expected to be complete by fall 2003 and the 4 km section expected to be complete by fall 2002. The remaining 14 km from the
Seguin River north to Highway 559 is at various stages of design, engineering, and property acquisition.
In addition, a Route Planning Study for the 20 km immediately south of Sudbury received environmental approval on January 25, 2000.