By Matt Meagher
If you have ventured anywhere near the Queensway (aka Highway 417) this year, you may have noticed that work on the Midtown Bridge Replacement Project is now in full swing. The new and improved versions of the Booth and Rochester overpasses are already peeking up expectantly over the north side of the highway near the Adult High School and orange tarps and pylons abound. The plan is that the new bridges will be slowly and carefully wheeled into place on weekends in July and August. Out of an abundance of caution, the highway will be closed on the weekends when the bridges are missing.
Rochester and Booth will be shut down for about three weeks to allow for the bridge replacements. And because new bridges are sitting in the middle of it, Raymond Street will be closed between Rochester and Booth streets for the rest of 2022.
North of the Queensway
In other progress, the handsome A-1 storage facility that was once located at 458 Catherine Street is now a distant memory, having been lovingly demolished earlier this year. That process revealed a 140-metre section of cantilevered highway right behind the storage building. As cantilevered highways are apparently quite costly to maintain, a run-of-the mill embankment slope will soon be built to take its place. Perhaps more interestingly, the site will ultimately become an overflow pond which will retain excess stormwater from the highway during heavy rainfall. However, if you are starting to harbour dreams of one day strolling around the Catherine Street Pond with a love interest or trusted work colleague, please take note that the pond will be dry, except during downpours, and the entire site will be fenced off, ostensibly for safety reasons.
South of the Queensway
On the Glebe side of the project, work has begun in earnest as well. Crews have been steadily eating away at the highway embankment on Chamberlain east of Bronson, behind the former school board building (also demolished). That area, conveniently located between Percy and Bronson, will soon become the staging area for both the Percy and Bronson bridge replacements.
Work on those two bridges will continue until the summer of 2023 when the new ones will be installed in July and August. Throughout that construction period, Bronson will be narrowed under the Queensway from time to time, though there is a firm commitment to keep at least one of its idyllic sidewalks open at all times.
Percy Street closure
More imminently, Percy Street will be completely closed to vehicles between Chamberlain and Catherine from April until the end of 2023. If you were planning to do the celebrated drive of Percy all the way from one end to the other, do not delay. The news is better if you are a walker or cyclist as the sidewalk and bike lanes will stay open, except for a single week at some point later in 2022 – exact timing will be revealed at a later date.
Once the bridges and crews have cleared out of the former embankment space between Bronson and Percy, work will begin on the new configuration of the Bronson eastbound off-ramp and a straighter but narrower Chamberlain Avenue. Councillor Shawn Menard and community representatives from both sides of the Bronson cleft have been diligently pursuing pedestrian safety improvements for the off-ramp intersection and have managed to secure the agreement of the Ontario Ministry of Transportation for somewhat better signage and high-visibility crosswalks. That journey continues.
The eastbound off-ramp at Bronson is scheduled to re-open in June. Retaining wall work and noise barrier replacements from Rochester to Percy will continue throughout the year with the associated lane reductions and orange tarps. The westbound on-ramp at Lyon does not fare nearly as well – it will remain closed and tarped for the entire four-year duration of the project.
That’s a summation of where the project stands now. If you find that periodic articles in the Glebe Report aren’t satisfying your cravings for project information, the MTO and its partners are promising a new website with more timely information and updates on closures sometime later this spring.
Matthew Meagher is co-chair of the Transportation Committee of the Glebe Community Association.