Although a few construction projects are nearing completion on roads and highways, most will continue for at least another year

Niagara motorists will have to contend with construction-fuelled traffic delays for years to come, warn provincial and regional representatives.

In addition to seven Ministry of Transportation projects underway on local highways worth about $146 million, Niagara Region has nine projects on its roads as part of a $103.3-million infrastructure investment this year.

And although a few projects are nearing completion, most work is expected to continue for a year or more.

The Region’s acting public works commissioner, Catherine Habermebl, said it’s the result of a record investment in the municipality’s infrastructure, almost doubling last year’s budget, needed to accommodate the Niagara’s growth as well as aging infrastructure.

“We’re experiencing growth in Niagara. We’ve been seeing it for the last number of years. We’re always ensuring our infrastructure and ensuring that it’s safe and that it’s moving traffic properly, and pedestrians,” Habermebl said.

“We have a number of projects underway right now. We have a very large budget,” she said, while noting some of the projects are causing traffic backups. “I understand the frustration.”

But in light of the impact on drivers — especially during summer months when the bulk of work is underway — Habermebl said the region has been striving to keep traffic flowing.

“Wherever we can, we try to maintain two lanes of traffic going through (construction sites),” she said. “We try to be the least disruptive to people driving through those areas, as well as the businesses and residents within those areas.”

Ministry of Transportation spokeswoman Astrid Poei also apologized for the inconvenience resulting from construction projects on Niagara’s highways.

“We do appreciate your patience as we work to complete these projects,” she said. “The safety of our drivers and workers on our projects is our top priority, so we are aware of the impact construction can have on travellers.”

Poei said the ministry has taken steps to minimize the impact on motorists by adding provisions to contracts, when possible, to prevent “lane closures during morning and afternoon rush periods as well as on holidays and during the weekends in the summer.”

“We work in conjunction with the region and municipalities to come up with a traffic management plan for all our projects,” Poei said, adding projects underway by all three levels of government are taken into consideration when construction plans are developed, as well as detours to divert traffic through construction zones.

Habermebl said a few region construction projects are expected to wrap up in the next few weeks.

Most of the work at Geneva and St. Paul streets in downtown St. Catharines, converting the area to two-way traffic at a cost of $5.8 million, is expected to wrap up by Friday — just in time for this weekend’s Grape and Wine Festival parade.

And Montrose Road in Niagara Falls is expected to be reopened by the end of October, after a $6.1-million project completely closed part of it to traffic, she said.

But other projects are just getting started, including construction of a new bridge to carry traffic on Martindale Road over Highway 406. That project won’t be complete until next fall.

Habermebl said a full list of construction projects is available on the region’s website.

Poei said two MTO bridge rehabilitation projects are expected to be completed this fall, too — including a $15.3-million project along the QEW to rehabilitate the Henley, Fifteen Mile Creek and Sixteen Mile Creek bridges, as well as culverts east and west of Victoria Avenue; and a $14.7-million project rehabilitating bridges along the 406 corridor, including Twelve Mile Creek, Westchester Crescent and Westchester Avenue.

Meanwhile, a $49.4-million project to replace the QEW bridge crossing the Welland River, and a $41.3-million project to replace railway bridges near Bertie Street in Fort Erie will be ongoing until fall 2021.

Other local MTO projects include rehabilitation of the St. David’s Road interchange at highways 406 and 58 at a cost of $29.1 million to be completed by 2020; a $7.3-million project to repair and replace 406 bridges at Chestnut Street to be completed next spring, and $15.8 million in Thorold tunnel repairs to continue until the spring of 2021.

Source: St. Catharines Standard