The Ontario government has released Connecting the East: a draft transportation plan for eastern Ontariowhich contains more than 50 near- and long-term actions, including highway expansions and public transit improvements.

“Our government is building Ontario by getting shovels in the ground on highways, roads and public transit needed to fight gridlock and keep goods and people moving,” said Caroline Mulroney, Minister of Transportation. “Our transportation plan for eastern Ontario will unlock access to housing, employment and tourist destinations, while supporting significant trade corridors and economic growth in the region.”

The plan includes the expansion of Highway 417 to four continuous lanes in each direction between Highway 416 and Maitland Avenue in Ottawa, long-term planning work to widen Highway 401 to up to eight lanes in the United Counties of Leeds and Grenville, improvements to local and intercommunity bus services, support for the trucking sector by adding truck stops along Highway 401 and the development of a new marine strategy.

“Eastern Ontario is a region that is home to over 1.8 million people with diverse transportation priorities,” said Vijay Thanigasalam, Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Transportation. “By identifying these local and regional transportation priorities through consultation, we have developed a transportation plan that will address the current and future needs of Eastern Ontario residents.”

Connecting the East: a draft transportation plan for eastern Ontario is an evergreen, living document that will continue to evolve. The province will work closely with municipalities, Indigenous communities and organizations, Francophone residents and organizations, transportation agencies, and local businesses to gather input and feedback to deliver a transportation network in eastern Ontario that will make an impact for decades to come.

“Connecting our smaller communities with the larger centres, creating more job opportunities, and ensuring the safety and efficiency of rural transportation networks are vital to the growth of our local and regional economies,” said Daniel Lafleur, Warden of the United Counties of Prescott and Russell.

“As mayor of Alfred and Plantagenet, I welcome the Ford government’s steadfast dedication to seek the input of the public and local decision-makers to implement its long-term vision for eastern Ontario transportation,” said Stéphane Sarrazin, Mayor of the Alfred-Plantagenet Township and Councillor for United Counties of Prescott and Russell. “Our economic recovery inevitably requires adequate infrastructure and we know that we can count on a government that knows how to get things done while taking our concerns and needs into consideration.”

As part of the evolution of the plan, the province will conduct a long-range technical study of the transportation network. This work will involve broad engagement and will commence in summer 2022.

Featured image: (Ontario Ministry of Transportation)

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