Kingstonians have been contemplating the necessity of a third crossing over the Cataraqui River since as far back as 1964. Throughout the years, studies have suggested that this project would improve access between the east and west, relieve rush hour congestion on the LaSalle Causeway and 401, as well as enhance response times for emergency services. In spite of these potential benefits, the price tag (at least $120 million), mix of municipal, provincial and federal funding, and environmental ramifications have ultimately resulted in decades of inaction.
Although the actual 1.1 km link between Gore Road and John Counter Boulevard remains a mirage on the horizon, the City has taken steps to nudge this project along. In 2009, the Kingston Transportation Master Plan (TMP) was updated with a recommendation to move forward with a third crossing. The latest iteration of the TMP released in 2015 reaffirmed the City’s support, while it also recommended that the bridge be downgraded from 4 lanes to 2 lanes due a a mix of factors ranging from decreased population growth to the environmental impact. Most recently, council committed $3 million to support preliminary design and cost estimates, with the intent that the project would be shovel ready by 2019.
With ongoing debate and the almighty dollar in mind, this got us thinking about how other Canadian communities built their bridges over troubled waters. Cities such as Halifax, Fort Frances and Vancouver all managed to build their bridges, which share one common feature: tolls. The incorporation of a fixed toll on Kingston’s third crossing could effectively defray the cost of construction, reduce our maintenance bill, and otherwise help rationalize the project for those who aren’t in favour. While the idea has surfaced before, this week’s poll asks:
Would you support a paid toll on Kingston's third crossing?
- Yes, absolutely. (68%, 312 Votes)
- Maybe. It depends on the price. (20%, 91 Votes)
- No way, it should be free. (11%, 52 Votes)
- Something else entirely. (1%, 3 Votes)
Total Voters: 458
Downgrading the third crossing from 2 to 4 lanes was one of the best ideas the City has had regarding the third crossing, but truthfully it may not be enough to gain that critical mass of public support. What’s the harm of council exploring whether or not tolls would be the best way to proceed for this new bridge? As controversial as it may seem, it could very well be just the thing to turn the tide and get a 50+ year project in the making off the ground.
Drop off your thoughts regarding the necessity of a third crossing, and whether or not you’re in favour of tolls below.
Photo credit to Lindsay Kinkade.