A promise to twin Highway 40 but without a timeline

This photo, from a Ministry of Transportation report in 1960 is facing east on Highway 402 in 1959, approaching the Modeland Road intersection, which was converted to an interchange 4 years later. In the distance, the merger of the two carriageways into Highway 7 is just visible. Highway 402 was extended east from Modeland Road to Highway 401 near London through the 1970s. The province in its budget has said it will fund the twinning of Highway 40 from Indian Road to North of Wellington Road but it is not clear when that might happen.

After 36 years of lobbying, the provincial government says it will fund the twinning of Highway 40 from Indian Road to just north of Wellington Road. But when that might happen is not clear.

Since 1985, politicians in Sarnia and Lambton County have been calling for the province, which owns and maintains the stretch of highway, to twin the road since there is a large amount of transport traffic carrying hazardous materials heading for the 402. There have been dozens of accidents on the highway which prompted concern of the possibility of a more serious accident.

Ontario’s finance minister announced the province would fund the widening of Highway 40 for the seven kilometers while presenting the budget Wednesday. But details are not clear. It was grouped with a number of projects in the Greater Toronto Area to be funded, which was grouped as part of $21 billion of funding over the next 10 years including about $2.6 billion in this fiscal year.

It’s not clear when the Highway 40 project would be built. Officials in Sarnia-Lambton MPP Bob Bailey’s office say they’re still trying to figure out the timeline.

Michael O’Morrow, Senior Issues Advisor, at the Ministry of Transportation also couldn’t give a clear timeline.

“The ministry will be undertaking a planning study for the expansion of Highway 40 from two to four lanes from Indian Road to north of Wellington Street which will continue to protect the lands required to construct the future widening,” O’Morrow says in an email to The Independent. “Once the planning work is complete, design and construction can be scheduled along with other provincial expansion priorities.”

O’Morrow says the ministry is currently in the detailed design phase of the Highway 40 CNR Bridge near Confederation Line.

“The existing bridge will remain open to traffic during construction and the new bridge will be built on the future Highway 40 southbound lane alignment to minimize the need for local road detours,” says O’Morrow.

“The new structure will remain in place for the future four-lane configuration. As a part of this ongoing project, the intersection with Confederation Line will be reviewed. The timing of construction is dependent on additional approvals.”

In 2009, the province estimated the cost of the twinning of Highway 40 to be about $80 million.