The Regional Municipality of Waterloo in southwestern Ontario is a thriving community with a population of more than 620,000. Comprising three cities, Cambridge, Kitchener and Waterloo, and four townships, the region is a unique mix of urban and rural areas. The Region’s Transportation Master Plan identified Fischer-Hallman Road for improvements from Bleams Road to Plains Road (City of Kitchener) as part of its long-term, multi-modal transportation goals. The corridor is a vital north-south arterial road and will support various transportation modes such as walking, cycling, and transit. The improvements will enhance vehicular travel and transport.
The Region of Waterloo retained Associated Engineering to complete the environmental assessment, preliminary and detailed design, tendering, contract administration, and construction inspection for the project, including the road, roundabouts, culverts, and trails. Project Manager, Peter Lejcar, tells us, “The project is vital to improve transportation in the area, as this is one of the largest and fastest growing communities in the Region. Several residential and commercial developments are proposed in the area, which we considered in the project’s phasing and implementation strategy.”
At the project outset, we conducted a Municipal Class Environmental Assessment, engaging in consultations with Councilors from the Region of Waterloo and the City of Kitchener, as well as with stakeholders, the public, and Agencies. Our team completed field studies including an environmental impact assessment, Stage 1 archaeological assessment, built cultural heritage assessment, site surveys, intersection control studies, tree assessments, and geotechnical and hydrogeological investigations.
Following this work, the project team developed and evaluated cross-section alternatives and selected a preferred cross-section design. The project also included design of three new roundabouts along its four kilometre length and a signalized intersection incorporating current active transportation elements to service adjacent developments. Connectivity with local trails was considered along the project limits, which may include pedestrian-level treatments to facilitate safe crossing.
Under existing conditions, Fischer-Hallman Road drained to various receiving areas, including low-lying, undeveloped lot parcels and the local Strasburg Creek. Due to planned developments, existing drainage outlets were effectively cut-off, and a low point in the road presented flooding challenges. Water Resources Engineer, Don McBrayne advises, “We assessed flood impacts using climate change metrics/parameters to determine the level of risk associated with the change in the drainage scheme. As a result, we revised the road elevation to mitigate road ponding risks.”
Stormwater management also included a regional storm culvert to address drainage needs identified in previous watershed studies. We designed the twin concrete box culvert considering climate change.
We liaised with the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry to address the impact to Species-at-Risk within the Strasburg Creek and Huron Natural Area. We evaluated mitigation methods and compensation, and identified measures to achieve a net benefit to the environment. These measures included a terrestrial ledge and wildlife fencing into the twin culvert, as well as a wildlife crossing further south.
In 2016, a nearby archaeological investigation uncovered significant Indigenous artifacts, including evidence of a village. The village site extends into the Region’s road right-of-way, which led to a Stage 4 archaeological assessment for this project. The Stage 4 archaeological assessment is presently being undertaken concurrently with roadway construction. The project is in the second year of a two-year construction period. The project schedule is largely influenced by the rate of archaeological finds within the road allowance. The next phases of construction are planned for 2022 and 2023.
Our key personnel on this project include Peter Lejcar, Gul Khan, Nemanja Antunovic, Johnson Nguyen, Don McBrayne, Daniel Curtis, Connor Whitehouse, Pierre Burton, and Maggi Jones.