Jeff Heuchert, Stratford Gazette
Traffic control measures that include signalized intersections, roundabouts and grade separation are all possibilities for a new Highway 7/8.
The corridor study team has come up with a range of preliminary design alternatives for the key transportation corridor.
They will be presented to the public at two information centres next week in Stratford and Shakespeare where, in addition to answering questions about the various proposed crossing road treatments, project leaders will be on hand to provide information about the different lane configurations that could be built depending on the final design of the route.
As reported earlier, a possible north bypass of Shakespeare is back on the table, to be analyzed by the Ministry of Transportation and its consultants along with a previously selected route that goes south of the village.
The south bypass would put drivers south of the existing highway before connecting with Line 33 (Pork Road) while the north bypass would use the existing road before dipping south to connect with Line 33.
Perth County councillor and Perth East resident Bob McMillan believes the north bypass route is the “more logical” of the two options.
But no matter what route is ultimately selected, he is hoping the Ministry will adjust its plans for the highway east of Shakespeare and bring the road closer to the village to limit the negative impact on surrounding residents.
Presently, both the south and north bypass options have the highway exiting the existing corridor just west of Road 106.
“I think it’s imperative that we do bring the highway as close to Shakespeare for economic development purposes,” adds McMillan. “Also, probably the most important thing to me is to preserve the farmland and not needlessly sever farms.”
Project manager Brenda Jamieson, of AECOM, agrees the highway could come closer to the village, but notes moving the road creates the possibility for other community and environmental impacts.
“There are some challenges whether we’re going north or whether on the previously selected route which is to the south,” she adds. “Our goal continues to be to find the best solution to not only meet the ministry’s needs and demands long-term, but also (have) the least overall impacts on communities.”
The design alternatives include keeping the section of Line 32 west of Stratford at two lanes, while possibly adding a continuous two-way centre left-turn lane to portions of Road 125 and Highway 8.
Key intersections along Lorne Avenue would be controlled by either signals or roundabouts.
The roundabouts, if selected, would be larger than what most people have driven to accommodate transport trucks and the types of agricultural equipment common in the area, notes Jamieson.
East of Stratford, including Line 33 to east of Road 110, the lane configuration is the same for both bypass routes, with an expanded four lanes and a centre left-turn lane to provide access to the properties along the route.
Further east, from Road 110 to Road 106, a south bypass would include four lanes with a seven metre median, while a north bypass, using the existing corridor, would have an additional centre left-turn lane.
East of Shakespeare, from Road 106 to west of Regional Road 1 in New Hamburg, would be four lanes with a centre left-turn lane.
The upcoming public information centres will be held Wednesday, July 25 at the Shakespeare Optimist Hall and Thursday, July 26 at the Stratford Rotary Complex. A third information centre is scheduled for Wednesday, Aug. 15 at the Wilmot Recreation Complex in Baden.
All of the meetings run from 5-9 p.m. with planned presentations at 5:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
The submission date for information presented at the meetings is Sept. 28. Comments can be sent to www.7and8corridorstudy.ca.
In addition to assessing public input, Jamieson says the study team will use a broad range of factors, sub-factors and a detailed criteria with about 66 indicators to evaluate each of the alternatives for the route. She anticipates a final route will be ready to be presented to the public in late winter, early spring 2013.