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Published on Sunday, March 26, 2017

Underpass size fight threatens Burloak project

Update: Burlington and Oakville agree on road width

Underpass size fight threatens Burloak project
Burloak grade separation map
This diagram from a City of Burlington staff report shows the affected area in a plan for a Metrolinx Burloak Drive underpass
Residents are invited to the first public meeting involving plans for a Metrolinx Burloak Drive Underpass Thursday night (March 30), in Oakville.

RELATED STORIES
Metrolinx is completing a Transit Project Assessment Process (TPAP) to grade separate Burloak Drive in the City of Burlington and Town of Oakville.

This project, meant to enhance safety, on-time performance and operational flexibility and reliability, according to Metrolinx, is part of a transportation plan to have more frequent train service along the Lakeshore West Rail Corridor — it will also include the construction of an underpass (road under rail) at the Burloak Drive rail crossing.

Metrolinx will be looking at the environmental impacts of the transit project through an environmental assessment following the TPAP.

A study team and Town of Oakville and City of Burlington staff will be on hand to answer questions and take comments.

The meeting will be held at the Queen Elizabeth Park Community and Cultural Centre in Oakville, 2302 Bridge Rd., from 6:30-8:30 p.m.

The matter came to Burlington’s Committee of the Whole on Feb. 27, and will be heading to council tomorrow (Monday) night.

The existing Burloak Drive/Canadian National Railway area at the grade crossing consists of a four-lane arterial road crossing a three-track rail line. This CNR line is one of the busiest rail lines in all of Canada and is used by Via Rail, CN Freight, Metrolinx and Amtrak, according to a city staff report.

An environmental assessment for the grade separation was done in June 1994 and the recommended design alternative involved constructing a four-lane underpass — with space to accommodate an additional two lanes in the future — at Burloak Drive with a temporary bypass road to the east in order to maintain traffic during construction.

To view the full report, visit https://goo.gl/EZh6Aq.

Since Burloak Drive is a boundary road, the Town of Oakville and City of Burlington share in the costs and construction approvals of any proposed works.

Oakville’s position is Burloak Drive should be widened to six lanes from the existing four, while Burlington maintains the lanes should stay at four.
Update: Burlington Council meeting agreed with the 6-lane approach


Metrolinx is also a partner in the project as it involves its property and operations as well.

At the Feb. 27 committee meeting, discussion revolved as to why Burloak Drive should be widened with Burlington councillors maintaining its original position.

Mayor Rick Goldring commented the Town of Oakville needed to quantify why six lanes were needed, while the City of Burlington needed to explain why it needed things to stay at four.

Ward 5 Councillor Paul Sharman noted he wanted assurances that council would have an opportunity to approve the construction plan before it went through.

It seemed the majority of committee members were in agreement during the meeting the city would not pay for six lanes if that ended up being the approved plan.

Meanwhile, Ward 4 Councillor Jack Dennison stressed the city should be more concerned with the road’s configuration than cost sharing.

“We need this underpass, and we want it as an underpass,” he said.

Alternative plans include construction of an overpass.

City manager James Ridge noted if progress on approval of the plan between Oakville and Burlington slows down, there could be a risk the province could step in and say, “we want nothing from you, no costing sharing, and it would be cheaper to build an overpass.”

Committee members approved a motion to direct staff to advise the Town of Oakville that Burlington city council requested the Burloak underpass structure capacity to be six lanes, but the road configuration be four lanes; and bring back the road configuration to Burlington council for final approval.

A motion to have lane configurations be part of the discussions on cost sharing was not carried by committee members.
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Author: Mayor Rob Burton

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