Environmental Assessment Study For Wonderland Road
Every day, tens of thousands of Londoners use Wonderland Road as a vital north-south corridor to cycle, walk, drive or take transit. But this essential arterial road has become increasingly congested – a problem that is expected to worsen as London grows, despite significant City investments in transit, and cycling and pedestrian infrastructure.
Through the London Plan, the City identified the need to continue moving high volumes of pedestrian, cyclist and vehicular traffic on Wonderland Road – and the Transportation Master Plan recommended widening Wonderland Road to six lanes between Southdale and Sarnia roads.
As part of an environmental assessment study called Discover Wonderland, the project team continues to consult with stakeholders and members of the public.
Londoners are invited to provide input using
the online comment form in the “Your Feedback” section of this website and have
also been invited to two open house information sessions: Wednesday, Jan. 30
and Thursday, Jan 31, 2019.
The Environmental Assessment (EA) process is used to assess how infrastructure projects will affect the environment – including natural, built, economic, social, and cultural environments. The main purpose is to assess potential negative impacts of a project and to identify opportunities to prevent or reduce them.
The Ontario government requires municipalities to complete an EA for any capital project, including road works.
The EA process includes collecting public feedback to be considered in the decision making process.
The EA process is used to assess potential negative impacts of a project on the environment and identify opportunities to make changes to the design to reduce negative affects to avoid expensive mitigation measures or controversial actions that might be associated with the project.
It is a long-term planning study for the corridor and will build on the recommendations of the London Plan, Transportation Master Plan, Cycling Master Plan and other relevant studies. The EA process requires public involvement throughout, and requires feedback received be considered in the decision making process.
The Wonderland Road Improvements Class Environmental Assessment Study will follow requirements of the Municipal Class Environmental Assessment (2000, as amended in 2007, 2011, 2015), which is an approved process under the Ontario Environmental Assessment Act.
The purpose of this survey is to gather feedback on the material presented at our Public Information Centres or January 30 and 31. We appreciate you taking the time to share your input. We request your input by February 22, 2019.
Frequently Asked Questions
In 2013 the City of London completed the Smart Moves 2030 Transportation Master Plan (TMP). The Master Plan is the guiding document used to determine transportation needs today and in the future for the entire City of London. As part of developing the plan, the City studied and identified transportation problems, opportunities and initial solutions for the entire transportation system in London.
The problems, opportunities and solutions identified in the Master Plan were developed based on existing conditions at the time of the study plus anticipated growth and development in the City over a 20 year timeframe.
Section 3.3 of the Master Plan outlines the City’s approach to road network improvements. The Plan states, “Despite the greater emphasis in this TMP on transit, active transportation, transportation demand management (TDM), and parking, many road improvements will still be required. One difference between this TMP and past studies is a more strategic approach is used to define the need for road network improvements.”
The Master Plan identified widening Wonderland Road from four lanes to six lanes to accommodate growth, which is the basis for this current Class Environmental Assessment Study.
Is a “ring road” or “urban expressway” being considered alleviate traffic problems for the entire City?
A “ring road” around the City of London has been a long debated topic in the community and has been studied in previous transportation projects including the 2030 Smart Moves Transportation Master Plan which was completed in 2013. The Master Plan does not recommend a “ring road” rather the arterial road network should be improved to provide high capacity automobile and goods movement corridors.
The Master Plan identifies the need to develop a Highway Capacity Arterial Ring Road, which includes Veterans Memorial Parkway, Huron Street, Clarke Road, Fanshawe Park Road and Wonderland Road. The High Capacity Arterial Ring Road is shown in Exhibit 26 from the Master Plan.
The Master Plan states, “To the west, Wonderland Road will provide the continuous “grand boulevard” connection between Fanshawe Park Road and Highway 401. Between Fanshawe Park Road and Exeter Road, this corridor is recommended for widening from the current four lanes to six lanes by 2030. To the south, a widening from the current two lanes to four lanes, plus a new interchange at Highway 401 is recommended.” The interchange with Highway 401 was constructed 2015.
The City’s Smart Moves 2030 Transportation Master Plan identified the need to widen Wonderland Road between Sarnia Road and Sunningdale Road in the following years:
- Sarnia Road to Fanshawe Road from 4 to 6 lanes within 20 years by 2031
- Fanshawe Road to Sunningdale Road from 2 to 4 lanes within the next 10 – 15 years
The widening of these two sections of Wonderland Road are a lower priority than from Southdale Road to Sarnia Road and would be completed as separate Class Environmental Assessment studies.
Roundabouts can provide many benefits, including increased safety, reduced vehicle speeds and typically have a higher capacity compared to traffic signals. However, they need to be provided in the right context to get the most benefit. Single-lane roundabouts typically operate better than multi-lane roundabouts, where drivers are clear about yielding rules and their path through the roundabout. Any roundabout on Wonderland Road would need to be multi-lane, and would require much more space than a traffic signal. The larger footprint would require additional property and conflicts with existing underground and overhead utilities. The Wonderland Road corridor is largely already built out, which makes it challenging to retrofit for a roundabout.
One advantage of using signals is that emergency vehicles and/or transit vehicles can disrupt the signal to get priority.
An opportunity for a roundabout at the Riverside Drive intersection is being evaluated, however it is not likely to be recommended due to the existing constraints.
Elevated expressways have benefits and drawbacks. From a benefit perspective, they work at moving a large volume of traffic at high speeds over large distances. An example of this is in the City of Toronto with the 15 km Gardiner Expressway. However, the size and design of the elevated roadway presents connectivity challenges for adjacent connecting roads, pedestrians and the movement of goods and people. Connections to the elevated expressway, through interchange ramps, require a large amount of space.
An elevated expressway would also cost significantly more to build and maintain, compared to an at-grade roadway.
The London Plan identifies the Wonderland Road corridor as an urban thoroughfare from Southdale Road West to the CNR tracks and as a Main Street from CNR, north to Beaverbrook Ave before transitioning back into an urban thoroughfare. Accordingly, these street types are intended to support multiple modes of transportation (transit, cyclists, pedestrians, vehicles, etc.). The main street area is intended to support retail and residential areas adjacent to the roadway. An elevated expressway is not consistent with the goals of The London Plan.
The City of London tracks traffic volumes at major Intersections, and adjusts timing every two to three years. It’s important to note that improving a problem at one intersection could create a problem elsewhere. Think about it like a city-wide air mattress: Pushing down the air in one spot doesn’t make the air go away, it just puts more pressure on other areas.
Synchronizing the traffic lights to stop backups on Wonderland Road would create longer delays for traffic on cross-roads, especially those with high volumes of traffic. Roads such as Riverside Drive, Springbank Drive and Oxford Street have high volumes of traffic as well. Traffic signal timing is about finding a balance so that as many vehicles as possible can move through the intersection without unreasonable delays to those waiting.
Discover Wonderland is looking at a pilot project to test adaptive signal technology along portions of Wonderland Road that would enable enhanced sensors to detect and predict traffic demands and change signal timings in real-time.
Our team will review and present more information regarding HOV lanes at the next public information centre. HOV lanes can contribute to moving people and goods in a more efficient manner. Widening Wonderland Road would not preclude future opportunities to convert or transform lanes into HOV lanes if and when they are needed.
London Transit Commission (LTC) is a stakeholder in this project. LTC has been and will continue to be consulted throughout the project to identify operational needs to promote the most effective transit service possible on Wonderland Road.
Bus bays specifically have been discussed with LTC and we have been advised by LTC they pose challenges to bus operations. Where necessary, bus bays can be used to support transit rest areas or layover points but are not widely encouraged throughout the corridor. Bus bays impact travel times of busses and create potential conflict points with vehicles due to the constant entering/exiting of travelled lanes.
Cut through traffic is often a symptom of arterial roadways functioning at or near capacity. Increasing capacity on Wonderland Road through additional traffic lanes or other modes of transportation (transit, cycling, etc.), will assist in more efficiently moving traffic within the corridor. As a result, it is expected that a more efficient Wonderland Road corridor would result in less cut through traffic on local neighbourhood roadways.
A noise study will be completed as part of this project to identify areas where noise mitigation measures are needed, or where improvements to existing noise walls are required. The noise study will be presented at the next information centre.
Yes, separated cycling facilities will be included in the design for Wonderland Road.
What is the City's plan related to property acquisition and removal of existing businesses in order to widen the road?
It is a common urban design principle/best practice that parking be located behind buildings to screen it from the public realm, and so buildings frame the public streetscape.
Developers’ proposals, as well as zoning and site plan review determine where buildings are located. The zoning bylaw outlines the ultimate road allowance width. At the time of those developments, the appropriate road widening was taken to meet the needs of the time.
The Wonderland Road Widening Environmental Assessment includes a comprehensive existing conditions investigatio aimed at identifying deficiencies in the roadway drainage system. As part of the study the hydraulic capacity of the storm sewer systems that provide drainage of the roadway surfaces have been assessed and recommendations for improvements will be incorporated into the overall study recommendations.
The infrastructure improvements and stormwater management facilities required to facilitate widening of the roadway will consider the impacts of changing storm patterns and are aimed at providing drainage solutions that are both adaptable and resilient to climate change. Specifically, storm drainage infrastructure will be assessed in terms of its sensitivity to changes in flows to ensure that an adequate level of service will be maintained and stormwater management source controls such as LID rain gardens will be designed to provide redundancy for the surface drainage system.
The image above shows the flooding at Wonderland Road and Riverside Drive in the winter of 2017. Source: London Free Press.
Woodland Cemetery is within the project Study Area and is a designated heritage cemetery in the City of London. Improvements to Wonderland Road will seek to avoid or minimize potential property impacts to Woodland Cemetery.
Construction staging and duration are always challenging on arterial roads. As part of the Class Environmental Assessment process, construction phases will be identified at a high level. Each phase will then undergo a specific detailed design process prior to construction starting. During detail design, each construction phase will have specific traffic management plans developed. Consultation with directly impacted property owners would also take place during detail design.
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Talk To The Project Team
Ask a question or request information, anytime.
Want to learn more about the upcoming Wonderland Road improvements project? Get in touch with the Wonderland Road project team today!
Ted Koza, P.Eng.
Transportation Design Engineer
Transportation Planning & Design
City of London
Tel: 519.661.CITY (2489) x5806
Jane Fullick, C.E.T.
Transportation Planning & Design
City of London
Tel: 519.661.CITY (2489) x5473
Jason Johnson, P.Eng.
Dillon Consulting Limited
Tel: 519.438.1288 x1222
Sabrina Stanlake-Wong, RPP
Dillon Consulting Limited
Tel: 519.438.1288 x1235