The Ross Street Underpass is expected to be open for traffic at the beginning of May.
The latest update from the city stated the contractor will be putting the finishing surfaces on the walls and roads during the next month.
While the city noted the existing Marine Park Crossing will be decommissioned shortly after the underpass opens, some members of the public have questioned why it couldn’t also remain open.
Rob Niewenhiuzen, the city’s director of engineering and public works, noted that one of the main drivers for the Ross Street Underpass project was safety for both vehicular and active transportation users.
“At-grade crossings are inherently unsafe as they allow for interactions between trains and other users, and the proximity of the intersection to the train tracks makes Marine Park especially risky as boat trailers hang over the tracks while the main vehicle is stopped at the intersection.”
He said many of the grants received are contingent on having the at-grade crossing removed due to the safety concerns.
Niewenhuizen noted the Ross Street Underpass has been designed with active transportation in mind. Sidewalks are on both sides of the underpass, with one of them raised to reduce the maximum grade to two per cent for those with mobility issues.
Mayor Alan Harrison confirmed that the Narcisse crossing near Churches Thrift Shop will remain open and, while the Marine Park Crossing will be closed, it will be available as an emergency crossing, should that be necessary.
Harrison reiterated that Marine Park crossing is controlled by Transport Canada, which determines what safety upgrades are required. The city was required to finance and complete those improvements.
As trains became longer, and road and pedestrian traffic heavier, the intersection is failing, with traffic back ups on both sides and across other intersections.
“It was only a matter of time before Transport Canada would require a stop light there, and perhaps further improvements, many of which would be costly, and still we’d have a far from ideal situation.”
He said the Ross Street Underpass means the city can avoid these problems.
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