Construction of the $80-million Maley Drive extension is on time and under budget, but that doesn't mean some big challenges aren't ahead.
When it opens sometime before the end of this year, the extension will ease congestion on the Kingsway and Lasalle Boulevard, get heavy ore trucks off main thoroughfares and offer more options for drivers looking to get from one part of Greater Sudbury to another.
Running under budget also means more of Maley Drive — the consensus pick for the worst road in Sudbury — will be expanded to four lanes. But the project also includes three roundabouts, traffic control circles that many local drivers have never dealt with before.
Roundabouts will be built on Maley at the corner of Barrydowne Road, Lansing Avenue and the Lasalle Extension, at Collège Boréal.
This week, roads director David Shelsted took the media on a tour of the half-built roundabout near Boreal, in advance of a plan to redirect traffic in the area beginning Aug. 14 so the other half of the roundabout can be built.
Traffic is being shifted a little bit north onto a new lane built for the Maley project, and includes a loop that will, pardon the pun, throw some drivers for a loop when they first encounter it.
“The big difference will be for westbound traffic coming from New Sudbury from Notre Dame (Avenue), basically towards Frood Road,” Shelsted said.
The ringed road will appear to take drivers away from where they want to go, until they circle around and end up back on Lasalle.
“It's going to look like you're going the wrong way, but the loop doubles back and it's going to take you the right way eventually,” Shelsted said.
Temporary traffic lights and traffic cones will help manage the traffic as construction continues, and drivers will be able to see the roundabout take shape, without having to deal with it right away. The partially completed roundabout at the entrance to Collège Boréal will operate as a typical intersection, with temporary traffic signals and marked stop lines.
“You can see it on either end, but you'll do the traffic signals,” Shelsted said.
Work in the area will be completed in October, with the first roundabout opening some time this fall. This will be the city’s first roundabout on a major roadway, and the city is readying a public education campaign to minimize confusion.
It will start up over the next two months. While Maley will open to traffic by the end of 2019, some additional construction will continue into 2020.
For more information on the Maley Drive Extension project, visit www.greatersudbury.ca/maleydrive.