1. What is the study area?
Existing transportation issues within the corridor include:
Additional traffic analysis was undertaken to update and confirm the transportation assessment undertaken for the Highway 11 Study Design Report (2005).
Traffic volume surveys were undertaken along Highway 11 in September 2009 to assist in the traffic analysis for this study. The traffic volumes from the September 2009 surveys were combined with historical information to project future traffic volumes. Based on future projected traffic volumes, Highway 11 will experience "poor" traffic operations and requires widening to six lanes to address the mid- to long-term capacity needs of this section of the corridor.
7. Will the Ministry be considering a new corridor to accommodate the need for additional highway capacity?
No. The provision of a new highway link between Highway 11 and Highway 400 was considered in the 2005 Study Design, and it was determined that Highway 11 will still require some form of improvement within the 30-year planning horizon regardless of whether a new corridor is constructed. Furthermore, several natural environmental impacts were identified with new corridor alternatives between Highway 11 and Highway 400 and the new link would be a less direct north-south travel route. In addition, from a cost perspective, it was determined that widening / upgrading Highway 11 would be significantly less costly.
8. Will the Ministry build any improvements on Highway 11 before building the 6 lane plan?
The development of interim improvements that integrate with an ultimate plan are an essential component of this project in terms of addressing existing traffic operations and safety issues. Should the recommendations of this study be approved, the interim improvements could be implemented prior to the ultimate plan for improving this section of the Highway 11 corridor.
PIC #1 will present existing conditions, the need for improvements to this section of Highway 11, the alternatives under consideration, the proposed evaluation process and criteria, and next steps in the study.
2. What are the Alternatives to the Undertaking?
Alternatives to the Undertaking are broad-based alternatives that represent fundamentally different ways of addressing future transportation needs. The Alternatives to the Undertaking considered for this study include:
3. What Alternative to the Undertaking was selected in the Study Design Report for further study?
The Alternative to the Undertaking selected for further study is Improvements to Highway 11.
4. What is the "Do Nothing" alternative?
The "do nothing" alternative maintains the status quo of transportation infrastructure and services with no significant actions being taken to either manage demand, expand infrastructure or improve operations. While the "do nothing"” alternative will seldom address the problem/opportunity, it provides a baseline against which the effects of other alternatives can be compared. It also provides a way of determining whether any of the other "alternatives to" are worthwhile.
5. What alternatives are being considered in this study?
The alternatives to be considered during the study include:
6. What will happen to the access to my home / business?
Should widening or twinning of Highway 11 occur along stretches of the Highway 11 corridor, a secondary access system (e.g. service roads) would be provided to access residences and businesses along the corridor, as direct access to Highway 11 would be restricted to interchanges. Should local bypasses be used, the bypassed section of Highway 11 would be converted to a local road and existing access could be maintained.
Short duration lane closures and/or detours may be required to facilitate construction; however, construction staging plans would be developed to accommodate access to local residents and businesses.
7. What work will be undertaken after PIC #1?
Using input received at PIC #1, the Project Team will further develop Highway 11 improvement alternatives (mainline, interchange, and service roads), and evaluate the Highway 11 improvement alternatives and identify a preferred improvement strategy for the Highway 11 corridor. PIC #2 is anticipated to be held in Fall 2010 where the preferred Highway 11 improvement strategy will be presented.
8. Who has been consulted prior to PIC #1?
To date, a Business Consultation Session and Municipal Advisory Group (MAG) meeting have been held. The Business Consultation Session was held on Thursday, October 8th, 2009. The MAG meeting was held on December 16th, 2009.
The Business Consultation Session was actually two sessions - an afternoon and evening session that featured the same content, to ensure maximum attendance. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss with business operators their concerns regarding existing access conditions, operations, safety, what needs to be done to improve the corridor, and how businesses may be affected by the various improvements.
The purpose of the MAG meeting was to provide an overview of the study, including existing conditions, the need for improvements to this section of Highway 11, the alternatives under consideration and the proposed evaluation process and criteria.
The Municipal Advisory Group consists of staff members from the Town of Gravenhurst, District Municipality of Muskoka, Township of Severn, and County of Simcoe.
9. How are First Nation and Métis communities being consulted?
All First Nation communities with a known interest in the study area and the Métis Nation of Ontario were advised of the project commencement and were given an opportunity to provide information on any environmental, social and cultural features and values within the study area to the project team.
10. How does the environmental assessment process work?
This study will follow the approved planning process for a Group 'A' project under the Class Environmental Assessment for Provincial Transportation Facilities (2000), an approved process under the Ontario Environmental Assessment Act.
The opportunity for public input will be provided throughout this study. A Notice of Study Commencement was published in local newspapers (the Gravenhurst Banner on Wednesday September 23, 2009; Orillia Today on Thursday September 24, 2009; and the Muskoka District Weekender on Friday September 25, 2009). Three Public Information Centres will be held. Notice of the PIC will be published in local newspapers.
A Transportation Environmental Study Report (TESR) will be prepared and made available for public review at the completion of the study which will document:
11. Why is MTO examining an extended study area at the north end when there is a new interchange proposed at the Muskoka Road 169 interchange?
It is recognized that MTO has a proposed plan for the reconfiguration of the Muskoka Road 169 interchange. As part of this study, all reasonable alternatives to address the transportation needs of this section of the Highway 11 corridor will be explored.
PIC #2 will present and seek feedback on the generation of Highway 11 widening / service road, realignment, and interchange alternatives, the assessment and preliminary evaluation of Highway 11 widening / service road and realignment alternatives, a plan illustrating the results of the assessment work completed, and the next steps in the study.
2. How were the alternatives evaluated?
The development and evaluation of alternatives required dividing Highway 11 into smaller segments for analysis purposes. The assessment was further divided into widening / service road alternatives, realignment alternatives, and interchange alternatives.
For each segment of Highway 11, alternatives were developed for widening to the east, west, and about the centerline, with corresponding service road alignments. Each segment was assessed and evaluated and a preferred widening alternative was selected. In addition to the widening alternatives, realignment alternatives were developed along the full length of Highway 11 within the study area. A screening of realignment opportunity areas was undertaken to identify where realignment alternatives should be assessed. The realignment alternatives carried forward were within the Kilworthy Road area as well as for the area north of Beiers Road. The findings of this assessment are presented at PIC #2, and the evaluation will be finalized and a preferred alternative selected following PIC #2.
Following this PIC, the Project Team will evaluate the preferred widening alternative against the preferred realignment alternatives to determine an overall recommended plan. In addition, the Project Team will complete a network assessment of the preferred alternatives to ensure acceptable transitions / connectivity along the corridor.
3. What was the general approach to the local realignment alternatives?
Local realignments will be considered where improvements to the existing Highway 11 corridor may result in major unavoidable effects on key environmental features, or where realignment would provide superior transportation benefits and result in reduced impacts relative to improvements to the existing Highway 11 corridor. Based on the above criteria, local realignments will be considered at the following locations:
4. What other realignment alternatives were considered? Why?
A Highway 11 realignment east of the existing alignment will also be considered between Jevins Creek and east of the Muskoka Road 169 interchange. Existing Highway 11 would be converted to a local service road, with direct access provided from both directions of travel.
Prior to the first PIC, a suggestion from stakeholders identified a possible realignment alternative east of the current Highway 11 corridor. The ministry investigated the basic feasibility of the suggestion and agreed to expand the study area to the north east. The expanded study area will allow the ministry to develop and assess alternatives east of Jevins Lake. The alternative routes being investigated east of Jevins Lake will be assessed and evaluated against the other widening and local realignment options that are being considered.
5. Why has the project team only presented some aspects of the Preliminary Preferred Alternative? When will a preferred alternative for the entire corridor be determined and presented to the Public?
The material presented at PIC#2 reflects the progress and work completed by the Project Team to date. At this stage in the study, the Project Team is seeking public feedback on the results of the assessment and evaluation work undertaken and will continue to complete the assessment and evaluation of realignments alternatives including the fieldwork that is associated with these alternatives over the coming months.
Once an overall preferred alternative has been selected, preliminary design of the preferred alternative will commence and will be presented to the public for review at PIC #3, scheduled for Spring 2011.
6. What are the next steps following PIC #2?
Using input received at PIC #2, the Project Team will finalize the evaluation of widening alternatives, assess and evaluate the interchange alternatives, and evaluate the preferred widening alternative against the preferred realignment alternative to select the recommended alternative. Finally, the Project Team will complete a network assessment of all recommended segments to ensure acceptable transitions / connectivity along the corridor. PIC #3 is anticipated to be held in Spring 2011 where the recommended Highway 11 improvement strategy will be presented.
7. Who has been consulted prior to PIC #2?
Before PIC #2, the following meetings were held:
The purpose of the meeting with the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) was to discuss the results of the assessment work undertaken to date, seek input on the significance of potential adverse environmental efforts and a preliminary discussion on the ability to mitigate impacts.
The purpose of the Business Consultation Session was to present and seek feedback on the generation of Highway 11 widening / service road, realignment, and interchange alternatives, the assessment and preliminary evaluation of Highway 11 widening / service road and realignment alternatives, a plan illustrating the results of the assessment work completed, and the next steps in the study.
The Municipal Advisory Group consists of staff members from the Town of Gravenhurst, District Municipality of Muskoka, Township of Severn, and County of Simcoe. The purpose of the MAG meeting was to provide an overview of the study and receive input on the evaluation of Highway 11 widening alternatives, the assessment of realignment alternatives, the interchange alternatives under consideration and a preliminary plan that summarizes the results of the assessment and evaluation of alternatives undertaken to date.
To present the preferred alternative to the public and seek feedback on the plan for improvements to Highway 11 between Washago and Gravenhurst.
The project team has been reviewing ways to realign the highway in the Kilworthy Road area, and between Sedore Road and Muskoka Road 169. The team has also looked at interchange alternatives. The results of this work will be presented.
2. Can the Ministry just upgrade Highway 11 and leave the existing entrances?
The purpose of this study is to develop a long-term plan to upgrade Highway 11 to a six-lane controlled access freeway. It will also look at interim improvements that integrate with the ultimate plan. Once the long-term plan has been identified the project team will develop interim improvement strategies that can be implemented to address safety and operational issues in the short term.
3. What realignment alternatives were considered?
Three local realignment alternatives were considered in the south area of Kilworthy Road to Jevins Creek area, on the west side of Highway 11.
Four alternatives were developed for the area between Sedore Road and Muskoka Road 169. These are:
The preferred alternative is to widen Highway 11 to the west, so that the existing northbound lanes of Highway 11 are used as a service road and the new northbound and southbound lanes are constructed to the west.
None of the realignment alternatives at the north end of the study will be carried forward.
5. How did you determine this preferred alternative at the north end of the study area?
Widening to the west is preferred from a natural and cultural perspective and it is less costly to construct as it requires no railway crossings and less wetland infilling.
Widening to the west maintains visibility and good access for businesses that remain on the east side of Highway 11, although slightly less preferable from a business impact perspective. As such, widening to the west is the preferred alternative overall.
6. How was the preferred plan selected?
The team divided Highway 11 into smaller segments for analysis. The segments were further divided into widening/service road alternatives, realignment alternatives, and interchange alternatives. Alternatives were developed for widening to the east, west, and about the centerline, with corresponding service road alignments. Each segment was assessed and evaluated and the preferred widening alternative was selected.
Realignment alternatives were generated and assessed within the Kilworthy Road area as well as for the area north of Sedore Road to select preferred alternatives at these locations. Once the preferred realignment alternative north of Sedore Road was selected, the preferred widening alternative was evaluated against the preferred realignment alternative to determine an overall preferred plan.
Interchange alternatives were then evaluated for the following locations:
7. How was the impact to businesses considered in developing the preferred plan?
We took an inventory of businesses along the corridor. We held two workshops to understand their concerns. The next stage of work will focus on how businesses are impacted by the preferred plan.
The next step in this plan is distributing a Business Impact Analysis Questionnaire with the PIC #3 notices to all businesses along the Highway 11 corridor. The business survey seeks information regarding the nature of the business, past trends of retail sales, and perceived impacts of Highway 11 improvements.
The project team is willing to meet with individual business owners in person. Metropolitan Knowledge International (economic impact specialists) will undertake the assessment and the findings will be documented in the Transportation Environmental Study Report for stakeholder review at the completion of the study.
8. PIC #3 was supposed to present the preliminary design of the preferred alternative. What happened?
Due to the importance and sensitivity of this study, the project team felt it was important to seek public feedback on the preferred alternative and how all of the alternatives were evaluated.
The team will be developing the preliminary design details of the preferred plan over the coming months. It will present those details, as well as impact and mitigation strategies, at a fourth PIC. This will likely be held in late fall 2011.
9. What are the next steps following PIC #3?
The study team will undertake preliminary design of the preferred plan. This will involve design refinements to the preferred plan shown at PIC #3.
These refinements will focus on minimizing impacts and/or increasing transportation/ engineering benefits.
An impact assessment will be undertaken and risk-reduction measures developed for the recommended plan. The team will present the preliminary design of the recommended plan, including proposed mitigation measures, at PIC #4. Following PIC #4, a Transportation Environmental Study Report will be prepared for a 30-day public review period.
10. What level of traffic volumes would warrant widening to six lanes?
Such widening decisions are governed by many different variables, including traffic volume, travel speeds, delays, access conditions, etc.
While it is difficult to predict precisely when this condition will be reached for this section of Highway 11, we expect this would happen around 2038. This depends on the actual future growth in travel demands along this section of the corridor.
The ministry will continue to monitor traffic conditions on Highway 11 to determine when improvements are required. It is likely that improvements will be made in a staged manner with interim improvements to specific elements of the corridor such as adding/widening shoulders, speed change lanes, etc., to be undertaken in a manner consistent with the ultimate vision.
11. How will the Ministry respond to the Town of Gravenhurst’s letter/resolution?
Consultation is an important part of the environmental assessment process. The Ministry will continue to meet with the Town of Gravenhurst to discuss the potential impacts of the preferred plan.
12. Why has the study schedule been extended?
A fourth Public Information Centre (PIC) has been added to the schedule to present the Preferred Plan to the public prior to preliminary design. This interim PIC is in response to the strong interest in the study and the Ministry wanted to ensure that the public had an opportunity to comment on the Preferred Plan before proceeding with preliminary design.
The purpose of PIC #4 is to present and receive input on the preliminary design of the recommended plan, potential impacts and mitigation measures, interim improvements, and future commitments to be undertaken at later stages.
2. Why is the recommended plan different from the preferred plan shown at PIC #3?
Design refinements were explored subsequent to PIC #3, which focused on minimizing impacts and/or optimizing transportation / engineering benefits.
3. What refinements have been made to the recommended plan since PIC #3?
Four access alternatives were evaluated for Bond Road for when direct access from the highway will be removed:
Simcoe Road 169
Two interchange alternatives were evaluated for Simcoe Road 169: a diamond and a roundabout. The roundabout alternative is preferred because it allows for a direct connection between the interchange and Muskoka Street, which is supported by the Township of Severn. This direct connection provides for a second access point to the interchange, reduces out-of-way travel for traffic destined to and from the interchange, and provides for additional growth and settlement opportunities within Washago. The roundabout also provides minor operational benefits with elimination of stop controlled moves, and a more equal distribution of traffic along local roads to/from interchange (with connection road to Muskoka Street). Although the Roundabout alternative results in greater natural and property impacts and a higher construction cost, these additional impacts are not considered to outweigh the above noted benefits.
Highway 11 at Severn River West Branch
Four alignment alternatives were evaluated for Highway 11 at the Severn River West Branch:
Southwood Road West Ramp
Four alternatives were evaluated for the Southwood Road west ramp terminal:
East Service Road – Southwood Road to Sparrow Lake Route 'D'
Four alternatives were evaluated for the east service road between Southwood Road and Sparrow Lake Route 'D':
West Service Road at Kahshe River
Four alternatives were evaluated for the west service road at the Kahshe River:
Access Road Alternatives to Picard Lane
Two alternatives to provide access to Picard Lane from Kilworthy Road were evaluated:
Sedore Road Interchange
Two alternatives were evaluated for the Sedore Road interchange east ramp terminal:
4. What interim improvements are being recommended?
The purpose of this study is to develop a long term plan to upgrade Highway 11 to a six-lane controlled access freeway, but this study has also investigated interim improvements that integrate with the ultimate plan.
A number of interim improvements (near-medium term) may be implemented along the Highway 11 corridor, in advance of construction of the full recommended plan. The purpose of the interim improvements are to improve overall safety and reduce collision risk prior to re-construction of Highway 11 as a fully controlled access highway. Interim improvements may include:
Property acquisition is normally started 2-3 years before a scheduled construction project. In general, property acquisition is intended to be a negotiated settlement that is agreeable to both parties. In cases where construction has not yet been scheduled, owners can request advance purchase of their property on a willing buyer / seller basis, but only if most of the property is within the proposed right-of-way.
6. I have heard that the Ministry is purchasing properties along the corridor, is this true?
Property acquisitions are a means of improving traffic operations and safety along the corridor. The ministry is not actively pursuing the purchase of properties along this corridor, but is evaluating properties that become available for sale on a case-by-case basis to determine if they would provide a safety benefit to the highway. The ministry is only acquiring properties on a willing seller/buyer basis.
7. How will I be compensated for impacts to my property?
Compensation is based on providing fair market value for your property at the time that the property is acquired. Fair market value is based on what similar land might be expected to sell for if sold on the open market by a willing seller to a willing buyer. After the appraisal is completed, a ministry real estate officer will present an offer of compensation.
8. When will the Recommended Plan be constructed?
This Planning Study is expected to be completed in the spring of 2012. The study will be documented in a Transportation Environmental Study Report that will be available for a 30-day public review. Further consultation and detail design will be required before the preferred plan is ready to be tendered for construction. While interim improvements will be considered, construction of the ultimate recommended plan will not be completed for at least 10 years and more likely approaching the end of the planning horizon, 2038. The timing for construction will be based on the Ministry's ongoing monitoring of Highway 11 over the coming years, and will commence when traffic conditions warrant the recommended improvements.
9. What are the next steps following this PIC?
After PIC#4, the following tasks will be undertaken:
10. How long will the TESR be available for review and where can I find the TESR when it is complete?
A 30-day public review period will be provided once the TESR is complete. The TESR will be made available at the municipalities' clerk's office, local libraries and on the project website. A "Notice of Study Completion" will identify locations where the TESR will be available for review. The Study Completion notice will be distributed to individuals on the project mailing list and published in local newspapers. Comments on the final report will be kept on record for future design stages of the recommended plan.
11. If someone from the public objects to the proposed improvements, what is the process to resolve those objections?
The Project Team will continue to work with concerned and potentially affected stakeholders to address issues and concerns. Refinements to the preferred alternative will also be examined to either minimize impacts or improve the design of the recommended plan.
Interested persons may provide written comments to the Ministry of Transportation during the 30-day review period. If, after consulting with Ministry staff and the project consultant, you have serious unresolved concerns, you have the right to request the Minister of the Environment (11th Floor, 77 Wellesley Street West, Toronto, ON, M7A 2T5) in writing to "bump up" (i.e., make a Part II Order) this project. A Part II Order may lead to the preparation of an Individual Environmental Assessment. A copy of the "bump up" request must be forwarded to URS Canada Inc. and the Ministry of Transportation (Northeastern Region). If there are no outstanding concerns at the end of the 30-day period, the project will be considered to have met the requirements of the Class EA and may proceed to detail design.
12. What kind of work will be done during detail design?
Detail design will consist of additional engineering and environmental field investigations, public consultation, refinements to the preliminary design, and contract drawings for construction.
The following summarizes commitments to future work during detail design:
The preliminary estimate for construction of the Recommended Plan is $240 million.
Last Updated on Dec. 12, 2011