Contracting begins on Highway 174, Road 17 upgrades

The City of Ottawa and the United Counties of Prescott and Russell are seeking professional engineering services to alleviate congestion in the Highway 174 and Prescott-Russell County Road 17 area.

Thursday was the deadline for contractors to submit proposals to the request for qualifications to help the two entities perform an environmental assessment on the east-end corridior.

Highway 174 is a four-lane arterial highway that turns into the two-lane County Road 17 in east Ottawa.

The study specifically targets improvements to Highway 174 between the "split" (interchange with Highway 417) to Canaan Road, as well as fixing up County Road 17 from Canaan Road to Landry Road in Prescott-Russell.

"The vision is that the future improvements will be made to upgrade the road to a higher capacity arterial roadway, but not to a controlled access freeway," the RFQ states regarding Road 17.

A budget is not stated in the document.

The assessment is supposed to protect transportation demand while taking into account houses, businesses and environmentally sensitive areas situated near the highways. There will also be an emphasis on bringing in people by other means of transportation, such as bikes and buses.

The contract is expected to take 24 to 30 months to complete from the time it is awarded, with a completion deadline of no later than March 31, 2015. While the legal agreement between the City of Ottawa and Prescott-Russell is still being worked out, Prescott-Russell anticipates it will handle the procurement for the entire process.

"Extensive growth in Orleans, Cumberland and Rockland has increased traffic volumes ... leading to severe congestion during peak periods," the RFQ reads.

"There are road safety concerns related to the numerous at-grade intersections, lower geometric design standards of the two-lane roadway and poor freeway transition area, as well as high traffic demand and the lack of passing opportunities, resulting in a poor level of service and driver frustration."

If this goes forward, it will be the second construction project in the Highway 174 area in recent memory.

In June 2011, the Ministry of Transportation awarded a $13-million contract to McCormick Rankin Corp. to submit a design for widening Highway 174 between Nicholas Street and Highway 174.

The overall construction work will include:

- Broadening and repairing the Rideau River and St. Laurent Boulevard bridges;

- Replacing the Lees Avenue, Vanier Parkway and Belfast Road bridges;

- Realigning the Highway 174 interchange to St. Laurent Boulevard;

- Adding bus-only lanes at the highway ramps, and making the St. Laurent Boulevard northbound to Highway 417 eastbound on-ramp transit-only.

McCormick is supposed to submit the design work this spring.