London

Province kicks in $103.5 million for local transit projects

The Ontario government has committed to contributing $103.5 million toward 10 local transit infrastructure projects, including the construction of the three approved legs of the Bus Rapid Transit plan.

List of projects include 3 legs of BRT that council approved in March

Ontario Infrastructure Minister Laurie Scott committed $103.5 million toward a list of 10 London transit projects Tuesday. Also attending the announcement was Environment Minister Jeff Yurek, right, and London Mayor Ed Holder. (Andrew Lupton/CBC)

The Ontario government will kick in $103.5 million toward 10 local transit infrastructure projects, including the three legs of Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) council approved in spring. 

The province made the announcement Tuesday at a London Transit Commission garage at the LTC's head office on Highbury Avenue. 

Most of the money will go toward the three council-backed BRT routes:

  • East London Link ($34.7 million).
  • Wellington Gateway ($31.8 million).
  • Downtown Loop ($9.4 million).

The rest of the money will go toward smaller projects including:

  • 31 new expansion buses ($8.4 million). 
  • Intelligent traffic signals ($6.5 million). 
  • Adelaide Street Underpass cycling infrastructure ($5.3 million). 
  • Oxford Street/Wharncliffe intersection improvements ($2.9 million). 
  • Dundas Street Old East Village streetscape improvements ($2.7).
  • Dundas Place/TVP connection ($1.3 million). 
  • Bus stop amenities (60 shelters, 150 solar powered lights) ($0.4 million). 

The money was announced by Laura Scott, who became infrastructure minister in last week's cabinet shuffle

Mayor Ed Holder said the money will go a long way to ease gridlock in London and get employees to work quicker. 

"This is the largest infrastructure commitment in the history of this city, so I'm tremendously excited," said Holder. 

With the provincial money in place, the 10 projects will now go to the federal government to approve its share, which will total about $170 million. 

Construction to start in 2021

Jennie Ramsay, who heads rapid transit implementation for the city, said she expects construction on the three BRT legs to begin in 2021. 

"All of the projects we submitted were essentially ready to hit the ground running, so we'll be moving forward into detailed design, have further consultation with the public at the neighbourhood level then aim to get into construction in 2021, on schedule," she said.

Originally conceived as a citywide rapid transit system with four lines of dedicated bus lanes that radiate out from downtown, only half of BRT was backed by council in March. The north route and west route were voted down. 

Some transit-backers worried the March vote will lead to a chopped-down transit plan that won't meet the needs of a fast-growing city. 

Holder disagrees. 

"The intent was to connect neighbourhoods with businesses and businesses to jobs. The commitments that were approved by city council and now by the provincial government do exactly that," said Holder. "I think this works for London. I think it's right for London and now we need to get the job done.

Holder said employers are telling him they're having big challenges getting their employees to work and back. 

"I've heard that many, many times," said Holder. "We deal with that by solving London's transit issues. I think this goes a long, long way in doing that." 

About the Author

Andrew Lupton is a B.C.-born journalist, father of two and a north London resident with a passion for politics, photography and baseball.

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