Posted on December 14, 2016 at 11:30am
Full house for highway lobby meeting
Every seat in the Optimist Performance Hall was filled last night, with a few people standing on the sidelines or in the aisles, to cheer the official launch of a lobby effort to fast track full four-laning of the highway connection between Rockland and Ottawa.
“We are so close,” said Marc Simard, emcee for the event and one of the spokespeople for the 174 Roundtable, “so close to making this happen. But we need to speak up.”
The Clarence-Rockland Chamber of Commerce and the 174 Roundtable are joining forces in a public-private lobby effort to push, both the provincial and federal governments, for financial planning for full expansion of the Highway 174/County Road 17 route between Clarence-Rockland and the City of Ottawa to four-lane status.
The province has already guaranteed at least $40 million for work on expanding the County Road 17 portion from the Landry Road intersection to Canaan Road, which marks the boundary between Rockland and Ottawa-Orleans. Premier Kathleen Wynne also promised, during a recent trip to Prescott-Russell, that planning and a possible start on construction for that section would begin in 2018.
That leaves the Highway 174 portion of the route which is part of the City of Ottawa’s municipal road program. While Mayor Jim Watson and other Ottawa officials have indicated they support having the 174 expanded to four-lane status, their main focus for their Master Transportation Plan is on the completion of the current light-rail transit project, including the eastern extension to Trim Road in Orleans.
“That’s where the challenge lies,” said Don Boudria, former Liberal MP for Glengarry-Prescott-Russell, and now working with Hill and Knowlton, an Ottawa-based lobby group which has taken on Rockland’s 4 for 174 project as a client. “This (Highway 174 expansion) is good for them too. We have to convince them (Ottawa) that they’re partners in this.”