4-lane construction on Municipal Road 35 to start in 2018

Construction to make Municipal Road 35 a completely four-lane highway is set to begin next year. Sudbury city council decided on Monday night to include the entire cost of the project into the 2018 budget.

Sudbury city council agrees to pick up the $38 million tab so the project can start as soon as next year

Sudbury city council will pick up the tab to make Municipal Road 35 a four-laned highway between Azilda and Chelmsford. (Olivia Stefanovich/CBC)

After decades of being on city council to-do lists, Municipal Road 35 is finally getting a commitment.

Sudbury city council decided on Tuesday night to include the entire cost of four-laning the highway into the 2018 budget. That means construction is set to begin as early as next year.

Coun. Evelyn Dutrisac and Coun. Gerry Montpellier have advocated for the project. 

"People are going to be celebrating," said Dutrisac.

"We've been waiting for this for at least 25 years."

​Caution on financing

The plan is to have the city pay for the project through debt financing over 25 years. Before this motion, city staff was mulling over options to apply for federal and provincial grants for the project. Many councillors, like Mark Signoretti, supported the motion, but made it clear that the city should continue these requests.

"I just don't want us to commit all this money, and then run the risk of not getting that funding from other levels of government," Signoretti said.

"I just want to caution that."

But Montpellier says money is not an issue, and promised that the debt financing wouldn't affect residents' taxes.

Council has 'ethical obligation' to project

Dutrisac was part of initial talks to widen the highway before amalgamation. She said the slots at the Sudbury Downs were supposed to finance the project, but after the City of Greater Sudbury was established, Dutrisac said that money went into general coffers.

"We've asked where the money's gone, and it's been spent," Dutrisac said.

"So there's an ethical obligation to make sure that road is four lanes. The main reason is the health, security and safety of our people that happen to use that road to get to work, to get home."

Final price tag lower than we think

More details on the financing will resurface during 2018 budget talks. Montpellier says he suspects there will be a cut to the price tag by then.

"You know how you'll get something repaired in your house or your car and you say 'how much does it cost?' This has never been done," he said.

"It's a guess-timate that I feel is over-inflated."