The ‘Hansen gap’: Started in 1980s, crosstown artery still incomplete

August 26, 2015   ·   0 Comments

As motorists caught by the recent closure of West Broadway at the railway crossing soon learned, Orangeville lacks an alternative east-west artery between the main street and Mono’s 5 Sideroad, three kilometers to the north.

That was already seen as a problem when the Orangeville Mall opened in 1978 and two large subdivisions, Milady Subdivision and North Credit Estates, were planned or being built east of Blind Line and north of College Street.

The Town responded by undertaking a North Development Area Traffic Impact Study. The study report, released in 1987, recommended a roadway network in the development area to accommodate the additional traffic that would accompany completion of the two subdivisions.

The study identified the need for a collector road, running east-west from Highway 10 to Blind Line and suggested traffic could then turn south on Blind Line and ultimately have access to C-Line.

However, the lands between First Street and what is now Amelia Street were not then planned for early development, and Oran- geville Council eventually decided to purchase rights-of-way and build two temporary two-lane roads, one a northward extension of Amelia and the other an east-west roadway between Amelia and First Street. They were completed in 1993.

Jack Tupling, who was the town’s Public Works Director at the time, sees the existing gap between just west of Blind Line and just east of Veterans’ Way as having many similarities with the gap closed 22 years ago, in that residents of a new subdivision now can reach the rest of town only via Veterans’ Way.

Mr. Tupling told the Citizen he recalls that the two temporary roadways were financed using revenue from lot levies, the predecessor of today’s development charges. The roads were both replaced a few years ago with permanent streets and sidewalks during construction of an adjacent residential subdivision.

Hansen Boulevard, named in honour of wheelchair athlete Rick Hansen, who vis- ited Orangeville in 1986 as part of his Man in Motion world tour, became the subject of a Class Environmental Assessment (Class EA) in 1991.

Doug Jones, who has succeeded Mr. Tupling as public works director, says the Class EA examined the Hansen corridor from Highway 10 to County Road 16 (Veterans’ Way).

“Due to the nature of the study, this project was classified as a Schedule C undertaking, which required that an Environmental Study Report (ESR) be prepared and filed in order to meet the requirements of the Environmen- tal Assessment Act. While this study used much of the background information from the North Development Area Traffic Impact Study, the recommended alignment changed, such that the proposed collector road would extend to County Road 16 instead of turning southerly to connect and intersect with Broadway and C-Line.”

Today, Hansen also lacks a direct connection with Highway 10, ending at an entrance to the Fairgrounds Shopping Centre.

“To the best of my knowledge, the Province has not refused to allow Hansen Boulevard to intersect with Highway 10,” Mr. Jones said. “There are, however significant challenges with making this connection. Generally, the Ministry of Transportation limits the number of accesses onto provincial Highways. As such, the preferred alternative for the connection of Hansen Boulevard to Highway 10 that was identified in the Class EA was to close the access from First Street to Highway 10 when the Hansen Boulevard connection was made. This is similar to what happened when the access from Buena Vista Drive to Highway 9 was closed at the time that the access to Highway 9 from Oak Ridge Drive was opened.”

As for the possibility of a direct link between Hansen and the highway ever being built, Mr. Jones said that “will require additional study of the potential environmental impacts, including the completion of additional flood plain analysis and fluvial geomorphology assessment and design for the realignment of Lower Monora Creek. An approval from Credit Valley Conservation for this work will be required.”

Similar challenges face the closing of the present gap between two stubs of Hansen west of Blind Line and east of Veterans’ Way.

“All of the land between the two existing stubs of Hansen Boulevard are owned by two developers,” Mr. Jones advised. “Edgewood Valley Developments owns the property immediately west of Mason Street and Cachet Developments owns the land east and north of the Hansen Boulevard stub that was con- structed as part of the Sarah Properties development.”

He described the two projects as both “in an early stage of the development process. The Edgewood Valley lands have not received draft plan approval as of yet; the Cachet Developments land is draft-approved, but no engineering drawings have been submitted to the Town for review. The actual timing of these developments is uncertain.”

Asked about the possibility of the Town closing the gap using a process similar to that employed more than 20 years ago, Mr. Jones said that while that might be possible, “there are a number of challenges.

“Firstly, the land is not owned by the Town, but by the developers. To secure the land, the Town would incur costs associated with at least legal fees and surveying. Funding of the road would also be challenging as well, in that the oversizing of the road to a collector standard is development-charges eligible, however the local road (if it were to be built without oversizing) is the responsibility of the developer. Thus it is unlikely that develop- ment charges could be used to fund this work.

“Furthermore, no design work has been completed for these developments so underground services on Hansen Boulevard could not be constructed at this time. Since the developers would be required to install underground service on Hansen Boulevard to service their developments, much of the road may be disturbed during development. This means that, in all likelihood, moving forward with a temporary two-lane roadway would cost the taxpayers a significant amount of money. It is not clear whether doing so would result in closing the gap much earlier than would happen if left to the developers.”

Mr. Tupling concurred, saying that while development charges might be used for a tem- porary link, the roadway would also need a potentially costly bridge over South Monora Creek, a small Credit River tributary.

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