The City of Burlington has started its 2021 capital budget discussions with lots at stake for Aldershot residents. Most importantly, if approved, the budget calls for final design and utility relocations required for the complete resurfacing of Plains Road West from Waterdown Road to Spring Gardens Road in 2022.
The road is in rough shape especially when compared to most of Plains Road East which was reconstructed several years ago. It carries a huge amount of traffic to and from Hamilton during rush hours and also leads directly to the headquarters of the Royal Botanical Gardens at one end and the Waterdown Road/403 interchange at the other.
The reconstruction project, if approved, includes resurfacing and storm sewer, curb, gutter, traffic signal and sidewalk repairs. This would cost $4.7 million. In addition, the plan calls for “corridor enhancements” including bus stop improvements and protected cycling lanes on both sides of the road, consistent with the City’s Draft Cycling Plan. These enhancements would add another $3.6 million to the project.
The idea of these “enhancements” drew the attention of Ward Four Councillor Shawna Stolte at Thursday’s budget meeting. She questioned whether the City’s financial situation could justify enhancements at this time. She asked staff to consider the matter.
“To really take a hardcore look at those renewal projects, for example Plains Road, and come back to us with a real need-to-have perspective”.
Stolte urged her Council colleagues to rise above individual ward interests, during the budget process, in an effort to conserve funds.
“Try as a Council to keep our heads away from our ward specific goals….each of us coming together on a city wide perspective”.
Ward Five Councillor Paul Sharman agreed that Council is looking for some “wiggle room” in the capital budget but added that “If you think about Plains Road….the segregated bike lanes – yeah we want that”.
Stolte kept an open mind.
“If the infrastructure has reached a point where it absolutely can not be delayed any further and it absolutely makes sense to incorporate active transportation lanes …. then I can certainly wrap my head around justifying a new and enhanced option and including it in the budget”.
In response to Stolte’s concern, Aldershot Councillor Kelvin Galbraith said later that he assumed she was just using Plains Road as an example.
“I am certain that she would not know the history and the current condition of the road. I think the Plains Road project is several years overdue and the source of many ongoing complaints from cyclists, motorists and local residents due to the horrific sound that a landscape trailer makes when hitting one of the large ruts at 60km/h.”
The proposed inclusion of the bike lanes is in fact a need-to-have for one local cyclist.
“Active Transportation is not an enhancement……We have been waiting a long time for Plains Road to be completed…..When they complete the section from Shadeland to Wolf Island, they need to make sure that it is friendly to all modes of transportation”, said Don Thorpe who is an Aldershot resident and former Chair of the Burlington Cycling Committee.
If approved in January, the proposed new cycling lanes would be an upgrade from what Aldershot has seen so far.
“These will consist of on-road bike lanes with a buffer area containing bollards or other means of physical separation as well as off-road cycle tracks adjacent to the existing sidewalks”, according to a statement from the City.
The capital forecast also calls for the two remaining sections of Plains Road to be finished in later years. These are; Shadeland to Waterdown Road in 2025 and RBG to York Boulevard several years later.
Other Aldershot projects pending 2021 capital budget approval, and scheduled to be done next year, include: new playground equipment for Hidden Valley and Maplehurst Parks, creek improvements on the Grindstone Creek near Snake Road and on the West Aldershot Creek between Fairwood Place and Oakland Park. Finally, erosion control studies are planned for the Grindstone Creek at two locations.
Members of Council will meet again on January 12th to review suggested changes to the capital budget and then forward it on to Council for final approval January 19th.