Expressways and Parkways in Kingston

Expressway, Kingston, OntarioAs a result of some recent home renovation projects, I’ve been doing a bit more commuting between our downtown and the west end, which is home to multiple DIY big box suppliers. My travels have been painfully slow at times thanks in part to construction on Bath Road, as well as drivers who insist on rushing the intersection just as the light turns amber. Many have remarked that Kingston’s traffic situation does not get much worse than John Counter Boulevard at rush hour, however even the Limestone City’s most frustrating commuter crawl is better than your average day running the roads in Ottawa, Toronto and various other Canadian cities. While Kingston is trying to coax people out of single serving vehicles by beefing up bus routes and schedules, as well as creating new park and rides, bike lanes and sharrows, is there really any relief in sight? Accordingly, this week’s poll asks:
[poll id=”78″]
Consider for a moment Toronto’s Don Valley Parkway, with a total distance of 15km and a speed limit of 90km/hour, which connects the 401 and 404 to downtown Toronto and all parts in between. Further, in Hamilton the Lincoln M. Alexander Parkway spans approximately 11km, connecting the 403 to newer development atop the escarpment as well the inner city Red Hill Valley Parkway. Now imagine if you will a commute that involved transitioning from the 401 onto a high speed thoroughfare such as Sir John A. Boulevard, with the ability to take you south faster than ever before.  While it seems counterproductive to consider building new, faster routes from point a and b to reduce commute times and congestion, perhaps this is something worth investigating. Where would you propose locating such a thoroughfare? Would you transform a preexisting street into a 90km/hour parkway, or is building an elevated inner-city expressway a better option? What about connecting a fast lane to the Third Crossing? Please drop off your ideas and commuter stories below.

Thanks to bmitchellw for today’s photo.

Harvey Kirkpatrick

Harvey Kirkpatrick is Kingstonist's Co-Founder. His features curiously explore urban planning, what if scenarios, the local food scene and notable Kingstonians. Loves playing tourist and listening to rap music. Learn more about Harvey...

6 thoughts on “Expressways and Parkways in Kingston

  • Please, no! Improve public transit instead to get people who do not need their car to transport goods can take the bus and ease traffic.

  • Having lived in Hamilton pre and post Linc, I definitely see how a cross city highway can make a huge difference in easing traffic, however, Hamilton's landscape with the escarpment, made it easy to create this road without too many disruptions. Most of the area where the Linc was built was already roadways, they just linked it all together, took away pedestrian traffic and upped the speed limit. Kingston isn't as big and we would need to make some serious sacrifices to create something like this here. The Red Hill Valley expressway was much more of an issue in Hamilton as it caused the destruction of forested areas that housed trails, tobogganing hills and other areas where children (myself included) played. I wasn't there when they finally approved the expressway but just knowing it's there is really sad. Due to environmental concerns and limited space, I don't see how we could pull this off in Kingston.

  • Great comment from Denley Randall, an Ottawa Citizen journalist a few years ago: That city could pave over the Ottawa River and there would still be traffic jams. We have all become spoiled by the dream of the modern car for work, shopping and taking the kids to school, when the reality is ever increasing traffic congestion. And there is a price to pay: just look at how much green space (gardens and lawns) has been paved over for parking places in the past 50 years. Many European cities now ban cars outright from the city centres.

    Returning home along Highway 15, we noted a large new sub-division under construction near Barriefield. It won't be long before traffic congestion increases on the LaSalle Causeway. Are you ready for the complaints?

    • Great point Peter. I've also cringed at the site of new development while crawling along an already congested road. A great for instance is John Counter Bvld, which is arguably the worst of the lot in Kingston. The Purdy's Mill development will only put more strain on an already overburdened John Counter Boulevard. Further, the prospect of connecting the east end of John Counter to a third crossing is troublesome.

  • Kingston is just senseless when it comes to locating new development of all sorts.
    Right now city council is losing it &holding up development over some black bricks that would be on the outside of a new restaurant in an already existing, ugly, vacant building right downtown at Market Square.. BUT.. they approve ridiculous locations for things like the KROCK centre.
    The crew doing the Bath Road reconstruction is the same one that did the Mowat St road reconstruction last year and into this year… that project went over time by months and most of it ended up having to be re-done.
    Construction is EVERYWHERE in this city making living, working & driving highly unpleasant. There is not one neighbourhood one can move to to escape the noise and dirt of construction projects. I've really had it with this town. All I want is some peace and quiet.

  • Personally, I am a proponent of expressways, but the cost to build and maintain them are excessively prohibitive for a city like Kingston. What we are already doing, by widening the remainder of John Counter Boulevard to four lanes, and eliminating the level-grade railway cossing at the VIA train station, should solve most of the problems with that road.

    Additionally, I believe JCB will be the fastest East/West Road in the city, since it has a 60 km an hour limit for most of its length, with the exception of the two lane segment. Once the two lane segment, and the railway crossing are limited, expect commute times to dramatically reduce, just like how connecting Centennial with that bridge dramatically improved North/South traffic.

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