Creed: Increased Niska Road traffic will shorten lifespan of existing road

Even though the City of Guelph continues planning for the upgrade of Niska Road, its completion could shorten the lifespan of Niska Road in Puslinch.

On March 2, council reviewed correspondence from R.J. Burnside and Associates  regarding a notice of completion for the Niska Road improvements environmental assessment study.

The city plans improvements along Niska Road, from the city limits at the Speed River to the Downey Road intersection.

The EA studies and consultation identified the following preferred alternatives for Niska Road and the Bailey Bridge:

– replace the existing one-lane Bailey Bridge with a two-lane bridge; and

– reconstruct Niska Road from the Bailey Bridge to Ptarmigan Drive with two shared-use lanes and a sidewalk on the north side.

Intersection design recommendations for Niska Road at Downey Road were not carried forward as part of the EA. Guelph city council requested the intersection design be re-examined in a subsequent study. It also requested that the type and style of the two lane-bridge be determined during the detailed design stage with public consultation.

Roadway improvements by the city would start at Downey Road and end with the bridge replacement. However, once Niska Road enters Puslinch, it becomes a rural road, maintained at rural standards.

Mayor Dennis Lever asked director of public works Don Creed about the possible impact to the Puslinch section of Niska Road.

Creed said if predictions for a 30 per cent traffic increase by 2031 are accurate, “we will lose one third of the life cycle of that roadway.”

As an example, he said “if the road is on a 15-year life cycle … you will lose five years.”

Creed said he expects discussions with the city will begin once the project gets to a design stage.

“At this point I have yet to see a document for an actual survey to see where the exact property lines are,” he said.

Councillor Matthew Bulmer asked, since this will shorten the lifespan of the Puslinch road, whether the city has been approached about these costs.

“Should we open that door formally?” Bulmer asked.

Lever reiterated a comment made earlier: “taxpayers of Puslinch won’t be paying for (Guelph) creating a major thoroughfare.”

Bulmer noted city plans were not those of the township.

Lever said with traffic counts of 4,000 vehicles per day, it is one of the busiest roads in the township.

“There are already significant impacts of the traffic coming out of and heading into Guelph,” said Lever.

He added it is important to consider “based on the traffic projections, how does Guelph anticipate compensating the township for the impacts?”