Why are we adding an FAQ Section?
Thus far, we have seen a significant and passionate engagement from the public on this project. For that, we thank every one of our citizens who have taken the time to inform themselves on this project and provide their valuable feedback. There have been a number of common questions within the responses received to date, and we would like to provide some of those answers in a Q and A format so that continued feedback can be received from an informed point of view. Please review below.
Why is this access being provided to residents of Development Area 1?
Ongoing growth in Development Area 1 has advanced to the point where it is now time for the City of Sarnia to follow through with their original commitment to the developers and residents of that area. The access is being provided because it is planned, funded and merited through continued growth and development. The Rapids Parkway was planned and exists as the only collector road in the subdivision. By definition, a collector road connects local roads to arterial roads. The completed traffic study has further supported the original plan noting that there will be benefits to the overall traffic congestion related to the major commercial area.
I am concerned about safety on the trail and its proximity to the proposed road. (Common concern)
As with any engineering design, safety is held paramount in the decisions that form the final result. This preliminary concept of our preferred design alternative is no exception. We have proposed to keep the portion of the trail that is adjacent to the roadway to the absolute minimum required for passage under Highway 402. The existing trail will remain in the same location, unscathed immediately to the North and South of the underpass, respectively. While the proposed design will modify the trail as it exists today, the disturbance will be kept to an absolute minimum. Where modification is required, the concept provides 2.9m (9.5’) of separation between the closest edge of the trail to the back edge of the curb. To further facilitate this from a community safety standpoint, the planned road width has been reduced from the original plan, which benefits pedestrian and cyclists through increased separation and reduced driving speeds on the single lane roadway. The trail is also proposed as being 3.0m wide through this section, an increase from the approximate 2.5m surface width in the existing state to reduce the risk of incidental contact between users through this zone.
Why not spend money on repaving other roads in need before building this one?
The cost of the road is almost fully funded by Development Charges and direct contributions from the residential properties that have been constructed in Development Area 1. Under the provincial legislation, these funds are subject to certain rules and have to be used for a development growth related project. In short, the money being used for this project cannot be used towards improving existing roads or infrastructure.
Why is an Environmental Assessment being completed if the road extension has already been confirmed?
The option of providing a road beneath Highway 402 has already been confirmed through the planning process for Development Area 1, through the Official Plan and through the Transportation Master Plan. With a thorough understanding of what the Howard Watson Nature Trail means to our community, staff have elected the Class EA process to properly identify and address all environmental and social impacts. The purpose of this EA is provide the most favorable solution possible for the road extension and its interaction with the existing nature trail.
What environmental considerations are being provided?
We are fully committed to identifying and understanding our environmental impact. We have engaged the Upper Thames River Conservation Authority (UTRCA) as the local Source Water Protection Agency to identify any and all considerations required in the region for protecting source water.
Further, an environmental screening report and a species at risk study have been undertaken. These comprehensive studies identify sensitive trees, wildlife and vegetation in the project area and outlines the required accommodations to protect them, which includes, but is not limited to; providing alternative habitat, relocation or replanting, avoiding construction windows for habitat sensitivity or disruption of vegetation. A detailed landscaping plan will be completed as part of the final design for this project. The City’s Environmental Advisory and the Bluewater Trails Committees would be integral as part of that process to ensure the unique characteristics of the Howard Watson Natural Trail are maintained to the best of efforts.
How will additional noise be addressed for adjacent residents?
A noise study was completed as part of the Class EA process. The recommendations of the study towards protecting existing residential areas from increased noise will be incorporated into the final detailed engineering design.
Why does this project propose to pave this section of the Howard Watson Nature Trail?
As the trail is adjacent to a road for this section, it will be treated and maintained as a city facility with the multi-use trail being used for more commuter related active transportation. As such, it will be plowed during the winter months.