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Region preparing for Sawmill Road improvements

Bloomingdale residents can expect to see some changes to Sawmill Road come 2017, as regional council has approved numerous improvements to the roadway.

The reconstruction project includes sidewalks, bike lanes, lighting, pavement reconstruction, left turn lanes from southbound Sawmill to St. Charles Street West and from St. Charles Street to Sawmill and traffic signals at the St. Charles Street intersection.

Jason Lane, senior project manager at the Region of Waterloo, says the project was originally in the transportation and capital program to add formalized bike lanes, sidewalks on both sides of the road, and intersection improvements at St. Charles Street West.

“And then once we got into the study we updated the traffic and it was determined that traffic signals were warranted for that intersection. We included that in the recommendation as well as in talking to residents there was also some interest in expanding the sidewalk on St. Charles as well to include a couple of the residential streets off of St. Charles to get at least sidewalks on those streets as well,” Lane said.

They collected traffic data over the course of a couple days to determine the delays and movement counts for various turns. From that they determined whether or not the level of service was met at current standards and then forecasted down a number years away to see if the warrants are met based on today’s traffic counts.

“There has been ongoing maintenance out there. Why it was added to the capital program is because the pavement in certain areas is requiring more maintenance than it should be. They’ve added this section to the capital program to get a major rehab, is what they call it,” Lane explained.

The decision to add cycling lanes came through Walk Cycle Waterloo Region and the Active Transportation Master Plan which identified that stretch of Sawmill Road as a core route for cyclists, even though some residents said in the Nov. 17 report they were worried about adding lanes due to the volume and speed of traffic.

The cycling lanes will be on both sides of Sawmill Road between River Street and Snyder’s Flats, and on both sides of St. Charles Street West between Sawmill Road and 100 metres east of Sawmill Road.

“There were very few residents that I spoke to personally that weren’t supportive of cycling because of how it’s a well used route for the avid cyclists, as well as some of the weekend warriors. The on road cycling lanes, the residents were fairly supportive of it. The only comments that we got were to include wider cycling lanes, not so much not include them,” Lane said.

Property acquisitions are required from 14 properties to accommodate the roadwork and six utility poles will need to be moved. An estimated 20 trees will be removed from residents’ properties.

“A number of people had concerns about the impacts to their properties, given the age of some of the properties. Some of the properties are a little closer to the road than others. Those houses, they expressed concern that they’ll have a sidewalk, not too far off their front porch, as well as the loss of some landscape. Some people have fairly substantial plantings, shrubs, trees, and some flower gardens that extend right out to the right of way. That will change once the sidewalk’s installed, as well as the look and feel of the settlement, it’ll change now that it’ll have sidewalks on both sides,” he explained.

The construction is expected to take place in 2017, as the acquisition of land could take well over a year. The projected cost of the project is $1.9 million.

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