The City of Waterloo, in partnership with the Region of Waterloo, will be working towards improving the uptown streetscape starting this spring.
The roadway improvements were proposed to begin on King Street from the ION tracks south of Erb Street and would continue up to University Avenue.
The construction, in phase one, will include a single travel lane in each direction in order to create wider lanes and additional space for emergency and delivery vehicles, dedicated left turn lanes on various streets, street parking stalls on the east side of the road and segregated bike lanes on both sides of the street, amongst other aspects.
Eric Saunderson, senior project manager, explained that the idea was initially started through the need for upgraded street lighting.
“What started off as a street lighting project eventually turned into something much larger. When we started looking at the street lights, the sidewalks needed to be replaced and that turned into looking at landscaping improvements and the configuration of the roadway,” Saunderson said.
“There is a need for wider sidewalks and given the amount of pedestrian activity in uptown.”
As well, as a result of narrow travel lanes, the area has some of the highest collision rates in the region.
“Safety was a pretty important part of the design process which led the team to consider reducing a number of travel lanes and assessing what those impacts would be,” Saunderson said.
The project will be completed in various stages. Stage one will include work on King Street north of Erb Street up to Bridgeport Road. Stage 2A will work on Erb Street from Waterloo town square to the west side of King Street. Stage 2B will be King Street from the ION tracks to north of Erb Street. Lastly, Stage three finishes King Street from Bridgeport Road to Elgin Street.
The first stage originally started at the Waterloo Town Square as it would continue on with the work being done under the ION Project. However, changes were made after hearing concerns from businesses who have been surrounded by construction since GrandLinq began their LRT work a few years ago.
“We met with the Uptown Waterloo BIA and considered a few different alternatives to approaching the project. We were able to change our staging approach to allow more space in that particular block and our first stage … so that the block south of Erb Street would be completed much later in the summer,” Saunderson said.
Through the improvements, the project aims to accommodate all modes of transportation.
“It should be a destination for people, in contrast to choosing other routes. So by introducing these elements, we can attract more cyclists to the core and create a more comfortable environment .”