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No timeline for Hwy. 7 construction

They may be crawling along like traffic on the 401, but plans for a new Hwy. 7 connecting Kitchener and Guelph are moving forward.

More public input is being sought as planners refine the route approved four years ago during the environmental assessment phase. The alterations, including changes to plans for Ebycrest, Spitzig and Shantz Station roads in Woolwich Township, were rolled this week in council chambers.

Although construction is still years away, the project has moved to the “value engineering stage” where the designs are being modified for efficiencies and cost-savings, explained Alla Dinerman of the MMM Group, the consultants hired by the Ministry of Transportation to oversee the work.

“Value engineering recommendations have performance and cost benefits over the original approves EA (environmental assessment) plan.”

Public open houses are scheduled for May 3 in Kitchener and May 5 in Guelph.

While construction is not on the province’s five-year timeline, engineering and land acquisition are underway, said the MTO’s Robert Bakalarczyk. Some 110 properties have to be purchased, which will take about two and half years.

The goal is to get everything in place so construction can begin as soon as funding is made available, he explained. Total costs for the project are estimated at more than $400 million.

The proposed new Hwy. 7 would be a controlled-access, divided highway running just north of the existing roadway, with two lanes in each direction, connecting Kitchener’s Conestoga Parkway in the west to Guelph’s Hanlon Expressway on the east end.

The current planning study for the highway began in 1989, with the preferred route in place since 2001. The current design was approved in 2007.

Totalling about 18 kilometres, the new highway would include six major interchanges and 34 bridges.

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