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Year-plus project on The Kingsway begins

Expect a traffic bottleneck between now and the final layer of asphalt being laid in 2024 along a stretch of The Kingsway between Silver Hills Drive and Falconbridge Road – minus the winter months

A traffic bottleneck has been established along a stretch of The Kingsway undertaking infrastructure upgrades, affecting one of Greater Sudbury’s busiest arterial streets.

The project includes the renewal of underground infrastructure and a combination of shave-and-pave and complete road rebuild between Silver Hills Drive and Falconbridge Road. 

Much of the work will take place next year, and all lanes are expected to remain open during the winter months. A final layer of asphalt will be laid along the entire stretch of road in 2024.

“We’ll try our best to keep things as smooth as possible, but bear with us, have patience,” project manager Andrew Peltomaki said. “We want to do a good job and get out there just as fast, but it takes time.”

The project is taking place in two phases, with the first stretching from Silver Hills Drive and Barrydowne Road, while the second will stretch from Barrydowne Road to Falconbridge Road.

Contractors broke ground on the first phase by opening up the northernmost lane to work on a storm sewer, which they plan on completing and patching with a temporary asphalt patch by the end of the month.

“Come Christmas time, traffic picks up in that area ... so right now, we’re targeting the end of this month,” Peltomaki said. 

As soon as the ground thaws next year, crews will continue along the first phase with a shave-and-pave asphalt project between Silver Hills and Barrydowne. 

“The existing lane configurations suit our needs as is, so it’s more to extend the life of the asset we have,” Peltomaki said, estimating the lifespan of the asphalt work to be approximately 15 years, while the storm sewer work taking place now is expected to last 80 to 100 years.

Once phase one is complete, crews will shift east to upgrade underground infrastructure to Falconbridge Road before undertaking a complete rebuild of the road between Barrydowne Road and Falconbridge Road. This section of The Kingsway was built to a rural standard, and will be “urbanized,” which includes the construction of curbs on both sides alongside sidewalks.

“Pedestrians have made their own walking paths off the side of the road, or they walk down the shoulder of the road,” Peltomaki said, adding that the addition of sidewalks and bike lanes will improve this stretch of the city’s active transportation network and prevent people from heading a block south to walk or cycle down Marcus Drive in order to avoid this section of road.

The underground infrastructure along both phases is primarily storm sewers, and the road rebuild between Barrydowne and Falconbridge is expected to last between 20 to 25 years, at which time a shave-and-pave will be required.

Rather than complete the work next year, the city plans on reopening all lanes in time for winter 2023-24, and then lay the final layer of asphalt in the spring or summer of 2024.

“You want to give it a year just in case there’s potential settlement,” Peltomaki explained of the delay between layers.

This project is similar in scope to the work done during the last couple of years along a stretch of Barrydowne Road, but is expected to be less of a headache for area residents and business owners due to the fact water main work will largely not be required.

Throughout the project, Peltomaki said at least one lane will be open both ways, and that turning lanes will be available whenever possible. 

During this and other projects, Peltomaki encourages motorists to use zipper merges properly. 

The city issued a public education piece a few years ago in which they highlighted the proper way to use a zipper merge – namely, for motorists to merge into the available lane at the point of a bottleneck, one at a time.

Motorists are encouraged to use all available lanes all the way to the point of a lane’s closure, and to merge at the point of the bottleneck, at which every vehicle in the open lane should allow one vehicle in each. This method allows traffic to maintain momentum and get past the obstruction more quickly.

Tyler Clarke covers city hall and political affairs for Sudbury.com.