Canada's New Government and the Ontario Government widen the QEW to reduce congestion



    NIAGARA, ON, June 22 /CNW Telbec/ - The final phase of construction to
widen the Queen Elizabeth Way (QEW) has begun, announced Rick Dykstra, MP
(St. Catharines), on behalf of the Honourable Lawrence Cannon, Minister of
Transport, Infrastructure and Communities, along with the Honourable Donna
Cansfield, Ontario Minister of Transportation, and St. Catharines MPP Jim
Bradley.
    The QEW will be widened to six lanes from four along a 9.4-kilometre
stretch, from Seventh Street Louth to the Garden City Skyway, through the City
of St. Catharines. The first phase of this project, the widening of the Henley
Bridges in St. Catharines, is underway and is scheduled to be complete by fall
2007. Once complete, the entire QEW corridor, from Toronto to Niagara Falls,
will have six lanes.
    The Ontario Ministry of Transportation awarded its largest single highway
contract ever, with a total value of $167 million, for the second phase of QEW
construction. The successful contractor is Dufferin Construction Company of
Oakville. The second phase of the project is scheduled to be complete in 2011.
    "The widening of this vital trade and travel corridor will help keep
goods and people moving through Southern Ontario while reducing congestion and
contributing to better air quality," said Mr. Dykstra. "The widening of the
QEW demonstrates the commitment by Canada's New Government to working with
provincial partners to improve the quality of life for Canadians living along
this important corridor."
    "The QEW is vital to economic growth, trade and tourism in Niagara and in
Ontario, carrying approximately $60 billion in goods each year," said Minister
Cansfield. "The McGuinty government's investment to widen the QEW to six lanes
will ease traffic congestion, enhance safety and keep our economy moving."
    "Projects such as these demonstrate that Canada's New Government is
committed to expanding existing infrastructure capacity, enhancing the
security of our border crossings and the safety of Canada's National Highway
System, as well as supporting the Canada-U.S. Smart Border Action Plan," said
Minister Cannon.
    "Widening of the QEW through our city will help to strengthen Niagara's
economy by facilitating the movement of traffic and will improve safety for
local drivers and visitors to our part of the province," said St. Catharines
MPP Jim Bradley.
    The total cost for phase 1 and 2 is approximately $183 million, with the
Government of Canada providing up to $41 million and the Province of Ontario
providing up to $142 million.
    During construction, various measures will be used to minimize the impact
on traffic for residents and drivers, including enhanced signage to inform
motorists of alternate routes, and maintaining the existing number of lanes
along the QEW whenever possible.
    The Government of Canada's funding for this project comes from the
$600-million Border Infrastructure Fund. The fund provides financial
assistance for infrastructure projects that reduce border congestion, improve
the flow of goods and services and expand existing infrastructure.
    This year, the Government of Ontario is investing over $1.7 billion in
highway improvements through its five-year ReNew Ontario infrastructure
investment plan. This investment will strengthen Ontario's economic advantage
and create opportunities for the Province's residents and businesses.

    A backgrounder with more information on the QEW border infrastructure
project is attached.

    
                                 Backgrounder
                                 ------------
                                 ------------

              QUEEN ELIZABETH WAY BORDER INFRASTRUCTURE PROJECT
              -------------------------------------------------

    The Queen Elizabeth Way (QEW) - the major trade corridor linking the
Greater Toronto Area to the Niagara region and the United States - is the
principal transportation link to four international crossings - the
Queenston-Lewiston, Rainbow, Whirlpool and Peace Bridges - over the Niagara
River to New York State.
    Traffic flow is frequently congested during peak periods. The QEW carries
an average of 73,000 vehicles per day from Highway 406 to the Garden City
Skyway, of which approximately 16 per cent are commercial vehicles. Summer
traffic is significantly higher, with about 100,000 vehicles per day
travelling through St. Catharines.
    Traffic volumes are expected to increase a further 30 per cent over the
next ten years. Once this project is complete, the QEW will have six lanes
from Toronto to Niagara Falls to accommodate this growth.
    The final phase of construction through St. Catharines is now underway and
will include widening the QEW from two lanes to three lanes in each direction,
and:

    - the construction of a concrete median barrier;
    - the installation of a new storm drainage system;
    - the reconstruction and reconfiguration of interchange ramps;
    - the replacement of two underpass structures and two overpass
      structures;
    - the rehabilitation and widening of an overpass structure and two
      underpass structures;
    - the installation of noise walls in residential areas;
    - the paving of highway shoulders; and
    - improvements to lighting.

    The first phase of construction through St. Catharines involves the
widening of the Henley Bridges across Twelve Mile Creek. Construction is
scheduled for completion by Fall 2007.
    This project will reduce congestion and improve safety on the QEW, as well
as improve the flow of commercial vehicles to and from the border.
    The Government of Canada and the Province of Ontario are also cost-sharing
the $33.8-million investment through the Border Infrastructure Fund, to widen
the QEW between Mountain Road and Glendale Avenue in the Niagara Region, with
the federal government contributing $16 million. This project is scheduled for
completion in summer 2008.
    More information on the status of the construction can be found at
www.mto.gov.on.ca.

                                                                   June 2007
    




For further information:

For further information: Natalie Sarafian, Press Secretary, Office of
the Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities, Ottawa, (613)
991-0700; Jamie Rilett, Office of the Ontario, Transportation Minister,
Toronto, (416) 327-9134; Amanda Stringer, Communications, Transport Canada,
Ottawa, (613) 993-0055; Bob Nichols, MTO Communications Branch, Toronto, (416)
327-1158; Public Inquiries: (416) 235-4686 (GTA), 1-800-268-4686 toll free,
1-866-471-8929 TTY; Transport Canada is online at www.tc.gc.ca. Subscribe to
news releases and speeches at www.tc.gc.ca/listserv/and keep up-to-date on the
latest from Transport Canada; The Ontario Ministry of Transportation is online
at www.mto.gov.on.ca; This news release may be made available in alternative
formats for persons with visual disabilities


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