The Hanlon Expressway Debate
Tuesday, March 13, 20076 Comments
The ministry is envisioning the highway becoming non-stop and therefore eliminating the six sets of streetlights that are at intersections like the ones at Kortright and Stone Road. There will be an environmental assessment within the study and there are likely to be numerous public meetings on the subject come April and May.
Final plans could include overpasses or full interchanges with multiple ramps. Kevin Bentley, the city’s engineering manager, notes that talks have also started as to whether the city and the ministry could share some costs, specifically of an interchange that is likely coming soon to Laird Road.
City Councillors are split on this issue; for example, Ward one councilor Bob Bell believes it is premature to worry about traffic near the Hanlon Creek Business Park before it is even up and running.
Ward 5 Councillor Lise Burcher and Ward 3 Councillor Maggie Laidlaw are not impressed with the plans to update the Hanlon. Both emphasize the need for us to look to other options when it comes to transportation. The high cost and dwindling supply of gasoline will see highways such as this give way to alternatives such as mass transit systems, predicts Laidlaw. Laidlaw and Burcher agree that spending millions on this is shortsighted, when the focus should be on creating a combination of ways of moving people and goods, such as buses and light rail systems.
Burcher and Laidlaw have it right, in my opinion. We are living in an era where we need to look further than major highways that split through a city. They are both rational and correct when saying that we need to focus the time, money and energy on improving alternative means of transit, given that we will soon not be living in the “oil age”. Is spending millions of dollars on highway improvement a good way to go when we should really be focusing on conservation methods, and alternate transport systems.
The traffic on the Hanlon expressway increased by 40% between 1994 and 2004, and given that we live in a progressive and proactive city, we need to be looking towards strategies to cut down on single-car traffic.
According to the Ministry of Transportation, in 1994, the Hanlon north of Maltby Road carried 15,500 vehicles a day, increasing to 35,100 vehicles north of College Avenue. In 2004, the corresponding figures were 23,000 and 42,000 respectively.
Our priorities should not be to improve highways so they might fit more cars. We need to be looking at ways that we can discourage individuals from driving an empty car. We need massive improvements on our transportation questions, we need campaigns to inform people about the coming oil crisis, and we need to put our money where our mouth is when it comes to energy conservation. We need to be the leaders that we always have been in Guelph and focus our energy on initiatives that are more sustainable than one such as this.