Hwy. 40 widening in preliminary stage, bridge replacement delayed

A section of Highway 40 in Sarnia. 25 March 2021. (BlackburnNews.com photo by Colin Gowdy)

A couple of long-anticipated projects along Highway 40 could take longer than expected to actually complete.

The widening of the highway from two lanes to four, between Indian Road and just north of Wellington Street, was included in the Ontario government’s 2021 budget.

Lara Cantin, manager of policy and programs within the operations division for the Ministry of Transportation (MTO), said they just recently initiated the process for preliminary designs and a class environmental assessment (EA).

“The average for that work is expected to take 18 to 24 months,” she said.

A timeline for next steps, which include detailed design work and construction, could not be given as they would still need to be approved after the EA and preliminary designs are complete.

Cantin said the next steps are also contingent on other expansion priorities across the province.

“Because these are things that happen every few years, it’s a continuous approval system with other provincial priorities,” she said. 

If the highway isn’t widened within a certain timeframe, a review will need to be done in case there are changes to the study area or engineering design standards.

“For a project where construction has not commenced within five years of issuing a Notice of Submission of the Transportation Environmental Study Report, and a Design and Construction Report, a review of the project must be carried out before construction may begin,” read an emailed statement by the MTO.

Meantime, another project on Highway 40 is now expected to begin in 2022. Replacement of the CN Rail overpass, just south of Confederation Street, was scheduled to take place this year.

“We are currently advancing design work for the new Highway 40 CNR bridge to replace the existing bridge,” said Cantin.

The MTO said the bridge replacement project, which includes the reconfiguration of Highway 40 and Confederation Line intersection, is expected to take approximately three years to complete.