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Work on the Waterdown bypass will start this year - 10 years late

The issue of an east-west Waterdown bypass has been ongoing since 2005. Now it's due to start in early 2016 - for real this time.

The issue of an east-west Waterdown bypass has been ongoing since 2005

This image shows both the east-west bypass and the north-south route. (City of Hamilton)

It's about a decade behind schedule, but construction on a bypass to ease traffic congestion in Waterdown will start early this year — for real this time.

You can believe it. Construction has already started on the portion between Parkside and Dundas even while they're still approving the final design for the bypass.

Waterdown is struggling with a glut of traffic as developers build subdivisions around town. The city of Hamilton plans to alleviate the congestion with two bypasses, including a $45-million east-west bypass that's years behind schedule.

Bureaucratic hurdles and approvals delayed the project. But 2016 will be the year that construction starts, said Coun. Judi Partridge.

It will happen "very early" in the year, she said, if not this month.

"This is going to be a very aggressive build because we are five to eight years behind schedule now," the Ward 15 councillor said. And "it can't come soon enough."

It's about bloody time.- Arend Kersten, executive director, Flamborough Chamber of Commerce

The bypass issue dates back to 2005. The city tried to slow residential development in Waterdown until it could build more roads to accommodate it. Developers took the city to the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) and the city lost.

Now, the houses are there but the roads are not. Since 2001, the population of Waterdown has grown by more than 3,000 people, with thousands more expected. Meanwhile, the province didn't approve the bypass plans until late 2013. Then the city busied itself with design, construction, land acquisition and hiring a contractor.

Frustration with the congestion runs deep. Businesses have suffered because people don't want to come downtown, said Arend Kersten, executive director of the Flamborough Chamber of Commerce.

"The short answer is it's about bloody time," he said of bypass construction. "The bypass is absolutely essential to the gridlock we have in Waterdown."

Kersten said he'd be surprised to see construction start in the cold weather, but "if it does, great."

"That thing should have happened years ago and it hasn't. People are using back streets as their own bypass in their neighbourhoods."

The bypass will divert through traffic north of Waterdown away from the congested Dundas Street (formerly Highway 5) corridor through downtown and extend out to Highway 6.

Partridge, who predicted construction would start in 2015, said some minor work has begun. But she expects the major construction to start this year and conclude in 2017. Construction on a joint north-south bypass with Burlington — an expansion to Waterdown Road — is scheduled to start in 2018.

Developers will pay for the east-west bypass through development charges, Partridge said. 

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