By Joanne Chianello May 27, 2011 5:31 PM Comments (2)
OTTAWA — The provincial Liberal government found $22 million in its budget this year to connect Hunt Club Road to Highway 417 in the southeast section of the city, in addition to a previously released plan to widen the highway from Nicholas Street to the eastern split.
The city will be footing the other half of the bill, money that Mayor Jim Watson said was already in the 2011 capital budget.
The announcement was made Friday by Infrastructure Minister and Ottawa West-Nepean MPP Bob Chiarelli and Ottawa-Orléans MPP Phil McNeely, who said he’s been working on connecting Hunt Club to the highway for more than five years.
Among other things, said McNeely, the new interchange will provide a more direct route to the airport for those living in the southeast quadrant of the city.
Watson and several city councillors also attended the press conference that was held on a dead-end strip of Hunt Club just east of Hawthorne Road, or as Gloucester-Southgate Councillor Diane Deans referred to it, “a road to nowhere.”
Under the infrastructure stimulus fund, which expires in October, Hunt Club Road was extended in a project costing about $20 million, shared equally by the federal, provincial and municipal governments. But the highway interchange was not eligible under the federal part of the program, and so Hunt Club literally goes nowhere east of Hawthorne.
But Friday’s announcement means that work on the interchange will begin as soon as August and is expected to be completed by 2014.
Watson said that the city had put in a request for funding for this project, “and we were hoping that we’d get some funding, and I have to tell you that we are very pleased that we are getting much more than we thought we would get.”
Lisa MacLeod, the Progressive Conservative MPP for Nepean-Carleton called Friday’s announcement “purely political, plain and simple.
“The Liberals have been engaged in a seat-saver program, announcing multi-million-dollar projects in the hope of hanging onto a few seats,” she said.
She charged that Liberals are “having trouble finding candidates,” pointing to another announcement Friday, this one by West Carleton-March Councillor Eli El-Chantiry confirming that he would not seek the Liberal nomination in the Carleton-Mississippi Mills riding.
The provincial Tories are holding their convention in Toronto this weekend. Candidates will receive training for the upcoming election campaign and the party will release its platform on Sunday. MacLeod said the Liberal announcement was “a desperate attempt to try to change the channel” from the attention being given the PC convention.
But Chiarelli deflected any criticism that announcing new money for a new road was a ploy to buy votes.
“We make major announcements throughout the year, every year, and we’re not going to stop because it’s an election year,” Chiarelli told reporters. “This has been in the cards for a long time and it’s coming to fruition now.”
The 2011-12 provincial budget earmarked $12.8 billion for infrastructure over the 12 months. Chiarelli said that “much of that is already allocated to existing projects, but there’s significant room there to announce new projects.”
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P.S. admin please fix title spelling of 'announced'