Ward 11 Coun. Terry Kett said he still supports the $115-million Maley project, but he sees it as something that will primarily benefit the city in the long-term. Moving ahead with The Kingsway project would pay more immediate dividends, he said.
“Get it done,” Kett said June 13, about the $25-million Kingsway realignment project.
At city council June 12, Kett asked for a special meeting on the city’s infrastructure plans, with an eye on moving forward with whatever plan would have the biggest impact, and that can be done the quickest. A tentative date for that meeting is sometime in September.
There’s no doubt in Kett’s mind what the answer will be. He said the city has waited for years for the federal and provincial governments to fund its one-third share of Maley Drive, money for which the city has already set aside.
Ward 2 Coun. Jacques Barbeau said, while The Kingsway is an important project, he doesn’t support making it No. 1.
“I don’t know if you can put it above Maley,” Barbeau said. “It has been on the books for some 20 or 30 years and I think it remains our top priority.”
It’s not really a fair comparison, he said, because the two projects are on different scales. Maley is a massive undertaking that will require federal and provincial funding.
The Kingsway, however, could conceivably be done without support from other levels of government. And he has no doubt it will move up on the priority list when councillors debate projects at the special meeting.
“We need to look at all roads and at how capital dollars are spent today. We need to spend the dollars in the right fashion,” he said. “We need to start looking at all our major roads as top priorities – and I’m talking The Kingsway, Lorne Street and Regional Road 55. They’re the roads we need to be concentrating on.”
Specifically, Barbeau is going to push for a change in the way roads projects are funded. Currently, money is spread out, with some money spent on roads in different classifications.
Essentially, a certain amount is spent on main arteries, a certain amount on connector roads, a certain amount on residential roads, etc. In effect, that means parts of many roads projects in Greater Sudbury are done in small sections, because the amount of money available to spend on them is limited.
But the impact of the policy, Barbeau said, is too many projects are worked on at one time, all of which take too long to complete. He thinks capital dollars need to be focused on doing larger sections of major roads first, because they would have the biggest impact on traffic flow for the greatest number of people in Greater Sudbury.
“It just makes more sense to do larger sections when you have the machinery out there already,” Barbeau said.
“I don’t believe most councillors understand how that works … I think some of them will be shocked when they see how we allot those dollars … The priority has to be the roads we all drive on, and not the road only a few of us drive on.”
And at the June 12 council meeting, city CAO Doug Nadorozny said the best news on the Maley Drive front he could give councillors is that the upper levels of government haven’t said no.
“They continue to not tell us to forget about it,” Nadorozny said. “It’s frustrating, but other communities have been told no, that their projects are not candidates for funding, so we haven’t been given approval, but we also haven’t been given that letter that says no, pick another project.”
Mayor Marianne Matichuk suggested, rather than going “for the (whole) enchilada,” breaking down Maley Drive into smaller chunks and trying to get funding that way. Staff is expected to deliver a report on her suggestion by the end of the month.
However, it’s time to move forward with projects that can make a difference now, Kett said.
“It’s time to talk about what’s realistic here,” he said. “What do we need in this city to continue to grow? The Kingsway is the major traffic artery in this city. It has fewer (traffic) lights than Lasalle, which is just a frigging monstrous mess. It’s just awful.
“But The Kingsway’s not. You can get a real good traffic flow. However, once you get past Laking Toyota, it starts to slow, because you lose that fifth lane.”
Traffic bottlenecks between the Brady Street lights and the area past Lloyd Street, where The Kingsway becomes five lanes. Eliminating that bottleneck would have a major impact on drivers in Greater Sudbury, most of whom use The Kingsway. It’s the city’s busiest roadway, handling roughly 45,000 cars a day. Paris Street is second at around 35,000 cars.
“If you could extend the fifth lane all the way to Lloyd Street, and do something about that corner by the old Kingsway Motel … the traffic would flow,” Kett said.
“To me, that should be the No. 1 priority of our city, and I’m trying to get councillors to think holistically. I know they represent certain wards and certain areas, but I want them to think holistically. If we can get The Kingsway solved, everybody’s going to be happy.”
An official with the mayor’s office said June 14 that city council’s top infrastructure continues to be Maley Drive, as reaffirmed at the city council meeting. If Kett or any other councillor wants to change that, they can fight for it at the special meeting in September.
“The mayor is neither for or against” switching priorities, Mike Whitehouse said. Rather, she’s committed to fighting for the priorities council as a whole has set for the city.
Posted by Arron Pickard