The Ministry of Transportation (MTO) has put out a notice on the modification of the Bronson Ave interchange as part of its midtown bridges replacement project, which includes replacing Highway 417 overpasses at Preston, Booth, Rochester, Bronson and Percy. This project is expected to start in the spring of 2021 and take at least five years.
Construction will impact our neighbourhood, and how we and others travel to and through the area as a result of closures and detours on many of our major neighbouring streets. Orangeville, for instance, is expected to be closed between Booth and Lebreton for the duration of the project. For more info on road closures and detours, please see Section 4.5 “Construction Work Areas” from page 43 to 54 at this document: https://www.highway417-midtownbridgesandimprovements.com.
We don’t expect construction to occur at Bronson until year three (approx. 2024), although timelines are subject to change. The link to the Design and Construction Report, as well as the notice itself can be found at the MTO’s project website: https://queenswayexpansioneast.com.
- Modifications to the Highway 417 eastbound off-ramp at Bronson Avenue, which includes creating a deceleration lane on the 417, west of the off-ramp;
- Widening the eastbound off-ramp where it intersects with Bronson Avenue, to add a through lane in addition to the left and right turn lanes which currently exist;
- Realigning Chamberlain Avenue. This will allow motorists who exit the 417 at Bronson travelling further east to be able to go straight through (instead of taking the jog south at Bronson). However, motorists who are travelling east from Bronson cannot use this new road/traffic light – they must still turn at the jog that exists now;
- Construction of related works such as retaining walls, utility relocations, noise barriers, lighting and traffic signal modifications.
- Since the option to go straight through the newly aligned Chamberlain instead of jogging south on Bronson only benefits those exiting the 417, all southbound motorists who need to go east still need to take a dangerous left turn across incoming traffic (without a traffic light). This will remain a dangerous intersection.
- During the initial consultations in 2013, we had asked all traffic going eastbound to turn at the traffic light at the realigned Chamberlain. This was not supported due to the MTO’s concerns about the possibility of traffic backing up to the Catherine St. offramp north of the 417.
- If all traffic were routed to the light, there would also be a side benefit of reclaiming more land that is used for roads for possible community use. It would also be more likely to result in slower traffic along Chamberlain, as people would have to navigate a 90-degree turn, and possibly a red light, before turning onto the street.
- Pedestrians travelling on Bronson will be less safe under this proposal. There will be an additional road to cross at the new Chamberlain on the east side, and at the offramp on the west side, there will be three lanes of traffic to cross instead of two. This is already a hazardous place for pedestrians, particularly as motorists often turn right at the red on Bronson without checking for pedestrians. We will be advocating for clear signage to alert motorists to pedestrians, and pedestrian crossing infrastructure at the intersection.
- While there are sound barriers being added or replaced for most of the project, the MTO has said there is not enough room to add a sound barrier in the Glebe Annex area. They plan to replace the retaining walls given the changes required to the offramp, and install translucent Acrylite panels above the retaining walls. The addition of the panels is a minor improvement to what exists currently (they do little to attenuate sound). While there are space constraints at some points, as the existing retaining walls come very close to both streets and homes between Lebreton St. South and Cambridge St. S., we would like full sound barriers to be installed wherever possible.
- Where sound barriers can be added, instead of the concrete barriers being proposed, we would like to see those that actually dampen noise used instead. This could include acoustic panels made of rubber, or mineral wool between fiberglass panels that absorb more of the unwanted sound than concrete does. We would like these in place wherever space permits.
- There will be space created between Bronson, the newly aligned Chamberlain, and the old Chamberlain Avenue (which will be modified slightly). This is near the old School Board building, behind the Hodge’s Service Centre building. This area will be used as a staging area for the Bronson and Percy bridge replacements. After that, however, we would like to see that area be used to benefit the community – whether by having native trees and shrubs planted to help with highway sound reduction, or by creating a public area. Some have mentioned the possibility of a small dog park, for instance. This may be more in the City’s purview than the province’s, but we hope to put a marker down as part of these consultations.
- East of Bronson, we would like to see Glebe Memorial Park to be expanded as Chamberlain Ave moves north, creating some additional potential park space. Again, this is a city responsibility, but bears mentioning to the MTO. (Current plans don’t even show a sidewalk on the south side of Chamberlain along the edge of the park, but instead plan for a fence.)
We encourage residents who are concerned with any of the above to write to the MTO to register these concerns. The more they hear from impacted residents, the more seriously comments will be considered. The MTO is accepting comments until next Friday, November 27th. The key points of contact are: