The stretch of Highway 417 behind Minister of Transportation Bob Chiarelli was virtually empty as he announced Tuesday morning that the provincial government has invested $86 million to expand the highway near Scotiabank Place to alleviate traffic congestion.
But Chiarelli, who is also the Minister of Infrastructure, said congestion on the 417 is “unacceptable” and not just when the Ottawa Senators are playing.
“Go stand there at 5:30 in the evening and see what you see. It’s bumper-to-bumper,” said Chiarelli.
Chiarelli said the province is expanding the 417 from four lanes to eight lanes from Eagleson Road to Palladium Drive, which includes a new High Occupancy Vehicle lane in each direction.
The 417 will also be widened from four to six lanes from Palladium Drive to Highway 7.
“We’re widening it because our demand shows it’s necessary,” said Chiarelli. “The growth in the area shows it will be more necessary in the almost immediate future.”
In June, Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty announced a $200 million project to expand the 417 from Nicholas to the 174 split starting next year. That project is expected to be completed in 2015.
Cavanagh Construction was awarded the contract of the new west-end expansion and said work will begin in a couple of weeks. The project will be finished in 2014, officials say.
Failing to invest in infrastructure during slow economic times would be irresponsible, he said.
“The the best way to do job creation in the downturn is infrastructure investments,” he said.