Frequently Asked Questions
1.Why are four lanes required along this section of Highway 69?
Four-laning of Highway 69 will provide benefits to local residents and business owners, other Ontario motorists and visitors to the area. Specifically it will:
- reduce congestion and make passing easier, providing controlled access to the roadway, and separating northbound and southbound traffic with a median.
- improve travel times between northern and southern urban centres.
- improve access to areas already developed, allowing for continued development and growth of the local tourist and recreational sector.
- reduce the likelihood and duration of road closures due to roadway maintenance and accident investigations.
2.What is the purpose of this Detail Design project?
The purpose of this Detail Design project is to develop contract documents, finalize environmental mitigation and obtain outstanding approvals.
3.How will Detail Design improvements be assessed?
Improvements are assessed in co-ordination with project staff, relevant external agencies / interest groups and the general public. Federal agencies include: the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, Transport Canada, Environment Canada, Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada. Provincial agencies include: the Ministry of Natural Resources, Ministry of the Environment, Ministry of Culture, Ontario Parks, Ontario Realty Corporation, Ministry of Tourism/Recreation and Ontario Provincial Police. Local municipalities, local Road Boards, Sustainable Forest License holders, Snowmobile Clubs, Interest Groups and the general public will also be engaged throughout the assessment process.
4.What Detail Design elements are being examined?
Design will explore the following elements along this section of Highway 69:
Although preferred concepts were identified for each of the design elements noted above during Preliminary Design, additional improvement alternatives may be evaluated.
- Interchange ramps;
- Bridge structure;
- Access roads;
- Service road;
- Highway profile; and
- Snowmobile crossings.
5.How will this project build on the issues and commitments identified in the 2006 RPS?
A number of issues and commitments to future works were identified in the 2006 RPS that will require further consultation with external agencies.
For example, the proposed snowmobile crossings require further discussion with local snowmobile clubs. Sustainable forest license holders will also be consulted regarding forest access roads and opportunities for sustainable timber harvest.
The MNR will be consulted regularly on issues and potential mitigation measures. These discussions will ensure all necessary environmental avoidance, protection/mitigation measures are incorporated into the contract packages.
6.How will area cottagers and other seasonal residents be notified and given opportunities to participate?
Cottagers and seasonal residents who participated in the 2006 RPS will continue to be notified of study milestones and public meetings through direct mailings, as well as through advertisements in local newspapers, and the project website. Opportunities to participate will be provided through Public Information Centres held within the Study Area. There is also opportunity throughout the study for public input by contacting the project team directly.
Checking in periodically with this website will allow interested individuals to track the progress of the study. In addition, everyone on the study's mailing list will receive notification by mail regarding study milestones and public meetings. You can request to be added to the mailing list on the Contact Us page.
7.How will natural environment features and communities in the study area be impacted?
During the planning phase, significant effort was spent to identify significant environmental features and to avoid impacting these features as much as possible. Where this was not possible, mitigation measures were identified in the 2004 RPS. Those mitigation measures will be addressed during the Detail Design Process and will be presented to review agencies and the public as they are developed.
8.Why has the project been split into two or three phases?
The Detail Design will be implemented in two or three phases. Implementing the Highway improvements in phases will allow traffic onto sections of newly constructed infrastructure at an accelerated schedule, thereby facilitating safety and operational improvements as soon as possible. In addition, Advance Clearing Contracts may also be scheduled to limit impacts to wildlife.
9.How will this Detail Design assignment be documented?
A Design and Construction Report (DCR) will be prepared for each Contract to document how the commitments made in the 2006 RPS were addressed.
10.What is the expected time of construction?
Construction timing will be determined once all permits and approvals are in place, property is acquired and utilities are relocated.
11. The “Highway 69 Action Plan”, dated June 2005, indicates that all Highway 69 design and construction, between Parry Sound and Sudbury, will be completed by 2017. Is the MTO going to meet the schedule shown in the action plan?
The MTO is working towards meeting the Action Plan, however all unconstructed sections of Highway 69 require federal environmental approval under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act and following a January 2010 Supreme Court of Canada ruling the federal agencies are now required to assess the whole length of a project when issuing environmental approvals, not just aspects of it (such as watercourse crossings). This has introduced unforeseen schedule delays. Since May 2010, the ministry has been working with the federal government to obtain environmental approvals under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act for the projects that have not yet been constructed. Once the federal approvals are received, we will move forward with additional construction contracts. In a Scoping Decision Document dated December 2, 2011 the Responsible Authorities (Transport Canada, Fisheries and Oceans Canada & Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada) have decided to assess separate phases of the Highway 69 Project under separate federal EAs, consistent with the five phases proposed by MTO. This project is now defined as Project 2 which is titled “Highway 69 Four-Laning from north of Woods Road to north of Harris Lake Road”.
12.Will First Nation Communities be impacted by the new Highway 69?
The Project Team will continue to consult with the First Nation communities to ensure that impacts are minimized and issues regarding property, access, traditional activities, land rights, and the environment are considered.
New alignment sections were selected during Route Planning to minimize impacts on existing First Nation communities and built-up areas along Highway 69.
13.Will communities along the highway be impacted?
During the 2006 RPS, the public and municipalities were consulted to ensure that impacts were minimized to the extent possible.
To avoid impacts on existing concentrations of development along the Highway 69 corridor, consideration was given to four-laning Highway 69 on a new alignment which avoids communities. Highway travelers will be able to safely access community nodes at interchanges.
14.What happens to homes located along the recommended alignment?
Although the recommended alignment was selected to minimize any impact to local residents, some properties and houses are required to allow four-laning to proceed. Those directly affected by the four-laning have been contacted by staff from the Ministry’s Property Section.
15.How much does four-laning cost?
On average, it costs $10 million per kilometre and another $8 to $12 million per interchange to four-lane Highway 69. The proposed four-laning of Highway 69 represents a significant investment in northern infrastructure and economic development.
16.Will the snowmobile trail system be maintained during and following construction?
The Project Team will carry forward commitments to maintain the continuity of the snowmobile trail system identified in the 2006 RPS and consult with local snowmobile clubs throughout Detail Design. Construction staging will consider trail use/ need for temporary measures (trail crossings, signing, fencing etc.).
17.How do you minimize impacts to local residents during construction?
Contractors hired by the MTO to build new highways are required to protect affected residents during the construction period by maintaining access and dealing with noise and dust issues. The Contractor utilizes such measures as: acceptable daily hours of operation to minimize noise levels and treating gravel road surfaces to prevent excessive dust.
18.How do you minimize impacts to the traveling public during construction?
Ideally, construction of the new four-lane highway will occur away from the existing traffic flow. In situations where construction must occur on the existing highway, restrictions on the number and duration of construction operations are defined in the Contract.