“The city has had it in their plans for awhile, and they are looking to move forward with a design for the road,” said Dave Riddell, associate VP-Physical Plant and Capital Planning at Western.
“We’ve met with them to talk about making the street look better. We’ve had an idea in our minds since the early 1990s to make it boulevarded,” he added.
Before enhancing the road’s aesthetics, the city will first improve its physical condition.
“Our major project is to widen Western Road,” said John Lucas, manager of transportation planning and design for the City of London.
“The road is four lanes up to Huron [University] College. We want to widen it to four lanes from Huron up until Richmond Street,” he added.
Lucas said the construction will likely be divided into two stages. The first stage will take place between Huron College and the bridge near Windermere Road, and the second from Windermere to Richmond Street.
“We want to get it into design this year, finish it, and then get into construction [in 2007],” he said.
If construction plans are successful, Lucas said both pedestrian and cyclist lanes will be implemented, and public transit will be made more accessible.
“We are trying to promote transit use, walking and cycling. Once we have something that works, then we can dress [the road] up,” Lucas said.
According to Riddell, the city has worked on Western Road in the past.
“There was some widening done in the early 1990s to build the tunnel [connecting Huron College to main campus],” he said.
In addition, Riddell discussed how improvements to Western Road will fit in with the school’s master plan, which was created in 1994 to guide Western’s future development.
“Some of the things we discussed [in the master plan] have changed since they were first discussed, but the set of principles are still valid.
“One thing we talked about was the desire to make Western Road an attractive road instead of a six-lane freeway,” he said.
Western Road was rated one of Ontario’s 20 worst roads by the Municipal Roads Coalition in both 2004 and 2005, finishing 17th and fifth, respectively.
The budget for the project’s first phase of construction is currently $5-million, Lucas said.