Champlain Township receives $500,000 from province for Highway 34 improvements
The provincial Ministry of Transportation is providing $500,000 in funding to Champlain Township for much-needed improvements on Highway 34.
The announcement was made at the YMCA-YWCA Recreation Complex in Rockland on Wednesday, May 19 when Transportation Minister Kathleen Wynne stopped by for a brief visit.
The minister said she was "very pleased" to announce funding for two projects - the one on Champlain Township and $4 million for an environmental assessment for County Road 17 in Rockland.
"When you are an MPP, your job is to bring your priorities to the various ministries and move to get projects in your communities rolling," Wynne stated. "You should know that [Glengarry-Prescott-Russell MPP] Jean-March Lalonde is very good at making his priorities known and moving the projects that are important to his constituents along."
Wynne said Champlain Township will use the $500,000 for the reconstruction and widening of Highway 34, from Main Street in Vankleek Hill to the town's limits.
Wynne explained that the funding comes from the province's Connecting Link Program, which was established to help sustain Ontario's infrastructure and maintain healthy economic environment.
"The Connecting Link Program assists municipalities with capital projects for local roads that connect provincial highways," Wynne commented. "The program funds engineering, design and capital construction work on connecting links."
Wynne said currently, the province looks after 2,720 provincial bridges, 13,000 municipal bridges and 16,000 kilometers of provincial roads.
Township Mayor Gary Barton said the reason the township wants to carry out work on that section of the road is because the Vankleek Hill Collegiate Institute had noted that it will be reducing its number of entrances from three to two when the new high school opens next year.
"As a result, the high school has asked the township to consider putting in turning lanes," Barton explained. "Originally, when we talked to the ministry, we were told this was the high school's responsibility. My position is, it's hard enough to find the money to build a new school, let alone worry about turning lanes. That's why we applied for funding through the Connecting Link Program."
Barton said the original application was for $2.2 million, but the $500,000 is a good start.
"We're hopeful that the ministry will give us some more money in the future, but for now, we're happy to start with this," he said.
He said council is in the process of discussing how to proceed with the project.
"I am pushing to get the turning lanes done," he stated. "We're talking about it now so we can get a better idea of how we want to move forward."