Province announces funding for Highway 26 widening in Collingwood
Section of highway to increase to five lanes
Aug. 10, 2017
By John Edwards
Ontario Minister of Transportation Steven Del Duca said it’s “better late than never.”
The province of Ontario has announced it will fund the widening of Highway 26 in Collingwood.
Del Duca made the announcement Aug. 9 and said construction will start in the spring of 2018. The project will see the 1.6-kilometre stretch of the highway, from Sixth Line to Pretty River Parkway, widened to five lanes, including a shared turning lane.
There will also be construction of a recreational trail on the north side and a sidewalk on the south side of Highway 26, between Pretty River Parkway and Marine View Drive.
The project will also include the closure of Sixth Line at Highway 26 with a cul-de-sac, and a connection to Hwy. 26 with an extension of Sandford Fleming Drive.
The reconstruction of Highway 26 between Stayner and Collingwood was completed in 2012. Mayor Sandra Cooper and town officials have met with the province on numerous occasions to discuss the project.
“I’ve heard from the mayor, I’ve heard from the warden and I’ve heard from others about this critical infrastructure project,” Del Duca said. “Critical for the economy and also for the quality of life for Collingwood and the entire area. Thank you for being a relentless advocate in pursuit of this particular good news for Collingwood.”
Del Duca was asked why it took so long to approve the widening?
“We have a big province and there are demands right across the province of Ontario,” he said. “For a very long period of time, particularly prior to 2003, there was chronic under investment in this province in all of this infrastructure. So to play catch up and keep at the same time in every corner of Ontario is not the easiest thing to do.”
Cooper recalls meeting with Premier Kathleen Wynne to discuss the project when she was the Minister of Transportation. Cooper was pleased with the announcement and said it will benefit the local economy, but also the thousands of tourists who visit the area. It’s estimated about 22,000 cars travel this stretch of highway every day.
“I can hardly get the smile off my face,” she said. “It has been a number of years, I’ve been encouraging the province in making an investment in Highway 26.”
Cooper gave kudos to Barrie MPP Anne Hoggarth for her efforts in the project, but didn’t mention Simcoe Grey MPP Jim Wilson.
“I’d also like to give a little shout out to MPP Anne Hoggarth from Barrie. I know she’s not our MPP, but she has been here and asking questions and assisting where she can,” Cooper said.
Simcoe County Warden Gerry Marshall said the project will have a major benefit to the entire region, especially for the tourism industry.
“This is a regional investment,” he said. “We have about 9 million tourists that visit us each year and about three million of them travel up this section of the road.
Del Duca expects the project to go out to tender in early 2018, but couldn’t put a dollar value on the project.