To meet future traffic demands, a key north-south corridor in the eastern portion of York Region is receiving a $41.5-million, eight-kilometre-long transformation.
The reconstruction of the Ninth Line extends from Rupert Avenue in the Town of Whitchurch-Stouffville south to Major MacKenzie Drive in the City of Markham.
Approximately six kilometres at the southern end will be expanded to four lanes. Closer to the community of Stouffville — which is the more urban part of Whitchurch-Stouffville — the road will be left at two lanes.
However, the widening is only one component of the multi-phase undertaking which also includes eradicating four jogs at key intersections and adding a whole host of improvements such as bike lanes, sidewalks, and tree planting.
SNC-Lavalin is the consultant for the project which is being conducted in the different segments of Section One, Section Two and Section Three. These are basically the north, middle and south portions of the construction route.
Two contractors, Mardave Construction, K. J. Beamish Construction Co., have been on-site since 2013.
But their work was preceded by Elirpa Construction which replaced the Major Mackenzie Drive East bridge west of the Ninth Line, and widened the Ninth Line Bridge south of Major Mackenzie. Work started in the spring of 2012 and was completed in the summer of 2013.
Those structures had to be in place before the widening could proceed, says York Region project manager Richard So.
Although the Ninth Line is located in — for now — a rural area, a 2008 environmental assessment concluded that by 2031 estimated daily traffic will be 22,000 vehicles, says So.
Already, traffic flow is hampered by the four intersection jogs which require motorists to make two quick turns in succession if they want to keep driving in the same direction. One of those jogs is right in the heart of Stouffville, says So.
"Drivers heading north on Ninth Line had to make a quick right on to Main Street and then quick left back on the Ninth Line."
As part of its contract, which is expected to wrap up in September, Mardave relocated Ninth Line slightly to the east. It also erected noise barriers along a portion of the realigned route, as well as installing street lights, and constructing sidewalks.
Further to the south, Beamish Construction will be removing the three other jogs at 19th Avenue, Elgin Mills Road, and Major MacKenzie Drive. Those east-wide roads meet the Ninth Line at offset angles, which result in drivers having to make two quick turns similar to the situation which existed in Stouffville, says So.
"Those roads are being realigned."
Beamish Construction is responsible for Section Two, (the middle portion) and Section Three (the south end) under one contract. Work on the Section Two wasn’t supposed to begin until 2016. But the start date was moved up to this past June as part of an accelerated schedule.
There were a number of reasons for the original 2016 scheduling, including the fact that the Stouffville GO train tracks cross the road in the area and a railway crossing permit has to be granted by Metrolinx, the provincial transit agency.
Negotiations for that permit are still underway, but work north and south of the rail tracks is underway, he says.
Accelerating the project will reduce disruption to motorists and complete the Ninth Line improvements earlier, says So, who expects the project to be finished by mid-2015.