Project Overview

Highway 401 is an essential part of the freeway network connecting the Greater Toronto Area with southwestern Ontario and the USA, linking major urban areas and providing a corridor for international trade and economic development. Highway 401 is also a key component of the road network for travel within the Region of Waterloo.

Notice of Project Update

Since the issuance of the Notice of Study Commencement in May 2014 (formerly GWP 3060-11-00), the project has been divided into two phases and is tentatively scheduled for consecutive construction, subject to completion of the Detailed Design and Class EA Study, funding, and approvals:

  • Phase I (2018) – Replacement of the Franklin Boulevard bridge including some work at the interchange, and municipal illumination on Franklin Blvd.
  • Phase II (Starting in 2019 to 2021) – Widening of Highway 401 to ten lanes, including High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV)lanes; reconstruction of the Highway 401 interchanges at Franklin Boulevard and Hespeler Road; replacement of the Hespeler Road bridge; and retaining walls as needed; expansion of the commuter parking lot at the Townline Road interchange. Drainage improvements, illumination, overhead signs and traffic signals will be completed as part of this phase.

A section of a new noise wall is proposed along the south side of Highway 401, west of Franklin Boulevard. The study will include the provision for pedestrian/cyclist travel across Highway 401 on Franklin Boulevard and Hespeler Road in accordance with the active transportation goals of the Region of Waterloo and the City of Cambridge. The construction staging/trafficmanagement strategy during the replacement of the Franklin Boulevard Bridge will include a temporary full closure of this interchange with no access across Highway 401 during construction.

The Franklin Boulevard Bridge will include the provision for pedestrian/cyclist travel across Highway 401 on Franklin Boulevard following construction, in accordance with the active transportation goals of the Region of Waterloo, the City of Cambridge, and MTO.

The Recommended Plan from Preliminary Design is provided below for your reference. This Detailed Design Study will develop the proposed bridge and interchange improvements on Highway 401 from Hespeler Road to Townline Road to the implementation level of detail. All of the proposed improvements will take into consideration the future 10-lane cross section of Highway 401.

Additional work under this project may include the reconstruction and widening of Highway 401 from Hespeler Road to Townline Road, including a horizontal curve improvement east of Franklin Boulevard. The widening phase of this project has not been funded at this time.

Active Transportation

A meeting was held with staff from the Region of Waterloo and the City of Cambridge in June 2014 to introduce the Detailed Design Study and obtain comments related to the design and construction of the project. The Region’s Active Transportation Committee requested staff to explore options of integrating active transportation facilities on Hespeler Road.

Subsequently, a start-up meeting with the Region of Waterloo, City of Cambridge, MTO, and Stantec was held on September 4, 2014 for the feasibility review of Active Transportation at the Highway 401/Hespeler Road interchange. The study is being undertaken independently by the Region and the City. The general scope of work involves reviewing background data, developing pedestrian/cyclist crossing alternatives, evaluating the alternatives, and selecting a Preferred Plan. The findings will be incorporated into this MTO study.

Adjacent Projects

The ministry is proceeding with a strategy for the expansion of Highway 401 in the Cambridge area. The initial project, which is underway, involves bridge replacements and rehabilitation between Highway 8 and Hespeler Road.

A subsequent construction project will begin in Spring 2015 with completion anticipated for Fall 2018. The improvements include widening of Highway 401 from 6 to 10-lanes (including HOV lanes), bus bypass shoulders, replacement of the bridges over the Speed River, noise barrier, highmast illumination and other safety improvements. The project will also include rehabilitation of the Hespeler Road structure. Although 3 lanes of traffic will be maintained on Highway 401 during all peak periods, some delays should be expected during construction.

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