Ontario commits to study Hwy 401 widening and interchange upgrades in Quinte region

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

MONDAY, MAY 2, 2022

BELLEVILLE – Todd Smith, MPP for Bay of Quinte, says the 2022 Ontario Budget: Ontario’s Plan to Build and Connecting the East: A draft transportation plan for Eastern Ontario, show the government is committed to future Hwy 401 widening and interchange improvements in Bay of Quinte, recognizing a key economic priority for local municipalities.

“These planned capital projects will improve traffic flow and safety through our communities and allow better access for residents, visitors and business traffic,” said Smith. “By supporting the City’s work to develop the Belleville East Arterial Route (BEAR), we are also helping open the door to growth in the North East Industrial Park, which has the potential to bring many stable, well-paying jobs to our region.”

Through Connecting the East: A draft transportation plan for Eastern Ontario, the Province is committing to a complete study (including preliminary design and environmental assessments) to plan for rehabilitation, increase safety, and identify transportation improvements along Hwy 401 in Quinte West and Belleville. The work includes promoting interchange designs to accommodate Long Combination Vehicles (LCVs, which replace two conventional tractor-trailers, reducing shipping costs and cutting fuel use and emissions.  The plan also directly references working with the City of Belleville on future opportunities such as the BEAR.  Another commitment of local significance is the proposed twinning of the Norris Whitney Bridge, connecting Belleville and Prince Edward County.

Building highways and key infrastructure was one of five key planks in the 2022 Budget.  Through it, the government is committing $25.1 billion over the next 10 years to support the planning and/or construction of highway expansion and rehabilitation projects across the province.  The Hwy 401 corridor is a key priority, as some 17,000 trucks per day pass along its route, carrying goods valued at $615 million.  It is also well-used by commuters and congestion is expected to increase as population grows. The budget references necessary bridge replacement projects west of the Quinte region as well as land acquisitions that would support widening from Belleville through to Brockville.

Belleville Mayor Mitch Panciuk was pleased to see the local initiatives included.

“It’s difficult to express how very pleased we are to receive this news. This is historic!  We have been lobbying for the BEAR for years and to know that it is now going to happen is definite cause for celebration,” said Panciuk. “This will create a safe access to our industrial area and, in doing so; ensure the future growth of our city. We deeply appreciate the provincial government’s recognition of this project.”

QUICK FACTS

  • Connecting The East is the final of four regional transportation plans – including Connecting the Southwest, Connecting the North, and the Greater Golden Horseshoe – that deliver on the government’s commitment to produce transportation plans covering all regions of the province.
  • Eastern Ontario is home to 1.8 million people and covers approximately 44,000 km2, extending from the District of Muskoka in the west to the United Counties of Prescott and Russell in the east.
  • Eastern Ontario has an extensive transportation network, featuring multiple 400-series highways, Class I railways, several public and private ferry services, international border crossings, an international airport, several ports, and multi-use trails.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

  • Connecting The East: A Draft Transportation Plan for Eastern Ontario -https://news.ontario.ca/en/backgrounder/1002075/connecting-the-east-a-draft-transportation-plan-for-eastern-ontario
  • 2022 Ontario Budget: Ontario’s Plan to Build - https://budget.ontario.ca/2022/index.html