By Stew Slater
St. Marys drivers could have another railway crossing to negotiate as early as 2014, pending Town Council budgetary discussions and environmental assessment (EA) approval from upper levels of government. But they also could have a potentially more convenient route to avoid downtown traffic.
A conceptual drawing was on display for councillors at their Committee of the Whole meeting Tuesday, Oct. 2, showing what it might look like if Park Street were extended eastward from where it now curves and becomes King Street. An extended Park Street would pass south of the Forman Electric building, cross the railroad tracks, and eventually meet James Street South just south of the fire hall.
The drawing was not on display as part of a request to have the Park Street extension approved.
Instead, it was part of one of two larger conceptual drawings for the town’s proposed X-park for skateboarders and BMX bikers.
Councillors gave the go-ahead at their Oct. 2 meeting for Town staff to pursue a plan for the X-park at nearby Cadzow Park. But before that location became the preferred option, there had been considerable discussion about constructing the X-park near the fire hall.
Conceptual drawings of the two options were on display to help inform councillors in their decision.
The fire hall option showed the Park Street extension.
Asked about the extension, CAO Kevin McLlwain explained there will be a request from Planning staff in the upcoming 2012-13 budget discussions for funding to begin the approval process. That will include conducting an environmental assessment of the proposal and having a project design completed.
“The fact that it’s being talked about certainly doesn’t mean we have the go-ahead to do it,” cautioned Interim Manager of Public Works Jed Kelly, in a subsequent interview.
Kelly added that an EA “could take four months. But if they find something, it could also take a lot longer.”
Barring major delays, however, the approval of the EA and design phase in the upcoming budget could potentially pave the way for a subsequent request for construction funding in the next year’s budget, 2013-14. And, as McLlwain noted in the Oct. 3 meeting, it’s possible the Park Street extension could be a reality as early as 2014.