BREAKING: Province announces new Highway 7 to be built (updated)

BREAKING: Province announces new Highway 7 to be built (updated)

After years of talk and preparation work, a new Highway 7 between Guelph and Kitchener is finally going to be built

The province confirmed Wednesday that a new Highway 7 between Guelph and Kitchener is finally moving ahead with construction.

It will consist of an 18-kilometre, four-lane freeway with seven interchanges connecting the Hanlon Expressway with Highway 7 in Kitchener. It will include new bridges over the Grand River.

Procurement and tender for the project could start next year. A completion date is unknown, but it’s likely several years, said Kitchener-COnestoga MPP Mike Harris who made the announcment via Zoom Wednesday morning.

Harris was joined by representatives of the municipalities the project will impact, including Wellington County Warden Kelly Linton, Guelph MPP Mike Schreiner and City of Guelph councillor James Gordon, filling in for Mayor Cam Guthrie.

“Hopefully we will see shovels in the ground quickly and shortly,” said Harris., later adding that “infrastructure projects of this magnitude take several years to complete.”

Harris said “procurement could begin as early as 2021, after the remaining field investigations and preliminary engineering is complete.”

A price tag has not been revealed. Harris said they don’t want to estimate one because it might affect the bidding process for the project.

“Project value will be available once the contract is awarded to a successful bidder, which is expected to happen next year,” Harris said.

“We don’t want to attach a specific number to this project because we don’t want to interfere in the bidding process.”

He pointed out the project will not interfere much with travel between the two cities because the existing Highway 7 will remain fully operational during construction.

Funding for the new highway will come from the $2.6 billion dollars the province has committed to infrastructure projects, including $760 million for expansion projects.

A new highway between Kitchener and Guelph has been talked about since the 1960s.

There was an announcement in 2007 saying the project was moving ahead.

“For whatever reason, it never really went much further than that,” Harris said.

For the past several years it has been on the province’s to-do list, but with no start date or dedicated funding. Since 2015 there has been preliminary and preparation work done, including overpass and environmental assessment work.

Announced Wednesday was Phase 3, which is the actual building of the highway.

“I can’t believe how pleased I am this government is actually going to follow through and build this highway,” Linton said.

“The County of Wellington is pleased that the Ford government is making good on its commitment to take infrastructure renewal across this province seriously. The moving from talk to action is the hallmark of good government, and we’re pleased we’re getting closer to action.”

The project will make “travelling safer, easier and support employment and commerce objectives,” added Gordon.

“An infrastructure project many members of our community have been waiting a long time for.

“The expansion of Highway 7 will bring us closer to our neighbours in Ontario’s innovation corridor and will be better connectivity connecting our two communities. May people live in Guelph and work in Kitchener-Waterloo and vice-a-versa.”

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