The highly anticipated widening of County Road 43 is set to begin next year after a few design delays.
North Grenville Council received a presentation by the United Counties of Leeds and Grenville, updating them on the progress of the project. As part of their presentation, the Counties also requested that council make a few design decisions about lighting, landscaping and pedestrian/cyclist facilities along the roughly 2km stretch from County Road 44 in the west to just east of the Colonnade roundabout.
Plans to upgrade County Road 43 have been in the works since 2010, however it wasn’t until July 2020, when the federal government finally committed funding for the project, that it stepped into high gear. Consultant with ARKim Consulting, Arup Mukherjee, told council that because of this almost 11-year timeline, some of the items in their original plan were out of date. Originally, the county was planning on rehabilitating the existing two-lane bridge over the Kemptville Creek, and twinning it with a new two-lane bridge to the south to accommodate the upgraded four lane road. After undergoing a study to look at the current bridge structure last year, it was decided that it was at the end of its life and that tearing it down completely and building a new four-lane bridge was the way to go. “If this had been back in 2010, there might have been value in keeping the existing two-lane structure and then rehabilitating it, and we still would have lots of life left in it,” Arup said. “But time hasn’t been kind.”
Because of the timeframe and the fact that they are now going to be building a new four-lane bridge over the Creek, they have also had to update their 2008-2010 environmental assessment data in accordance with the Environmental Assessment Act. The addendum to the Environmental Study Report will be made available for public review at a future date.
The design presented to council includes four new roundabouts: one at the intersection of County Road 43 and 44, at the entrance to Shoppers Drug Mart, at Anniversary Way, and just past the bridge in front of Kemptville Retirement Living. Although there has been some concern about the efficacy of roundabouts in the community, Arup says that the modern design is actually much safer than a typical intersection, which has about 48 possible conflict points. A roundabout has 21. “One of the safety features of roundabouts is that they have been shown to reduce personal injury collisions by just under 80%,” he said. Signalled crossings will also be part of each roundabout to allow for pedestrians to cross the road safely.
As a partner in this project, the municipality is responsible for the cost and maintenance of the boulevard portion of the redesign. This includes the multi-use path, lighting and landscaping in the median. Council agreed with the County’s suggestion of having a three-meter multi-use path on both sides of the road which will run along almost the entire stretch of the new four-lane thoroughfare. Arup also confirmed that another pathway extension south down County Road 19 will connect the multi-use path along County Road 43 to Wellington Road, the Rail Trail and Ryan’s Well Drive.
Council gave direction to the county to include decorative lighting along the multi-use path, as well as grass and trees at 10m spacing along the median. Both Councillor Kristin Strackerjan and Councillor John Barclay also suggested that they look into an option like wildflowers for the median, which would be more environmentally friendly and require less maintenance. “I think there is a great deal of flexibility,” Arup said. “As long as there’s a desire to put something in there, we can keep working.”
Although the final budget for the project has not been finalized, Director of Public Works, Karen Dunlop, says the municipal portion will probably fall in the $5.5-$7 million range. The team at the County is now preparing for a virtual public open house to be held in May. The design will be completed and sent out to tender this year, with construction (starting with the bridge) beginning in 2022.