The Third Crossing is almost shovel ready, and City Council will soon be asked to decide if and under what conditions to move forward with constructing this link across the Cataraqui River. In the lead up to this decision, city staff will be holding two public open houses on April 26 and April 27 to present the results of the preliminary design work, the business plan and the cost-benefit analysis for the bridge. Staff has shared with me a few of the following highlights that will appear in the cost-benefit analysis;
- Significantly improved traffic flow projections across the city – the bridge will result in reduced travel times and distances both for those who use the bridge, but also those who don’t use the bridge because of more efficient traffic flow.
- Reduction of emergency response times – which will save money on additional emergency services that would be required if the bridge is not built.
- Increased appeal of industrial lands – the bridge is projected to generate more sales of industrial land in the east end of the city.
Recently staff has advised the public that the estimated cost for the Third Crossing will be higher than the $120 million identified in the 2011 Environmental Assessment for two central reasons;
- Inflation – the updated cost needs to account for inflation and updated to 2017 dollars.
- Environmental sensitivity – due to the environmental sensitivity of the surrounding area and discussions with Parks Canada, the Third Crossing will have to be constructed using a temporary work bridge, rather than dredging the river, which is a more expensive construction method but more environmentally responsible.
As we hear more details about the proposed benefits and costs of the Third Crossing, I want to share my position going into this discussion.
When I ran for mayor, I was very clear that I supported the Third Crossing. However, I was also very clear that we need to live within our means, by holding property tax rate increases to the inflation rate. My position is that constructing the Third Crossing must not require a property tax rate increase.
What this means for me is that the city’s share of the Third Crossing must fit within our existing capital investment plans. We have several road and infrastructure projects planned for the coming years, and the Third Crossing will have to fit within this plan. That means that we will also need both the provincial and federal governments to come to the table to invest in the Third Crossing. This to me represents a balanced way to move our city forward, to create infrastructure that benefits our whole community.
Having said this, I want to hear from you… Mark your calendar for the April 26 and 27 public open houses to learn more about the Third Crossing. For more information on the Third Crossing and the open houses please visit www.cityofkingston.ca/ThirdCrossing
I look forward to hearing from you on this important issue for our community!