Major Progress for Canadian Motor Speedway – MTO Conditionally Approves Bowen Road/QEW Interchange Plan.
Fort Erie, Ontario – After a lengthy and highly detailed process with The Ministry of Transportation of The Province of Ontario (MTO), Canadian Motor Speedway (CMS) has received notice that CMS will not be required to upgrade to a four lane structure and that a two-lane Bowen Road/Queen Elizabeth Highway interchange will be sufficient as long as certain conditions are met.
The conditions require CMS to arrange closure of the Bowen Road interchange at certain traffic thresholds based on the number of attendees to events and traffic queue lengths. The interchange will remain open to emergency vehicles at all times. The Region of Niagara and The Town of Fort Erie also have to agree to support the closure parameters, with further agreement by Ontario Provincial Police to provide staff to support the proposed Traffic Management Plan (TMP).
With this decision, CMS now has a clear directive on the highway and road infrastructure required to finalize the TMP and can continue to work with stakeholders to refine the Site Plan for final submission and approval.
Canadian Motor Speedway Partner and Executive Director, Azhar Mohammad says MTO approval for Bowen Road is a major step forward in the CMS time-line.
“This is very positive news for us and another major milestone achieved moving us closer to construction. During the last three years, the Bowen Road interchange issue has been a significant challenge and it was critical for CMS to receive this conditional approval from the MTO. There are some conditions that need to be met, but our consultants have already prepared most of the responses and we expect to present the final report incorporating a 2 lane interchange format within the next few weeks. We can now focus on the detailed site plan submission and other more challenging infrastructure elements such as water and waste-water. We commend the MTO for their efforts with CMS, our traffic management consultants BA Group, and local emergency services for sharing our priority of developing a safe and effective traffic management plan.”
CMS Chief Executive Officer Ibrahim Abou Taleb welcomed the MTO decision enthusiastically.
“This long awaited response from the MTO is great news despite the extensive and costly process to arrive at this point. As always, we steadfastly believe in the CMS project and its location in Fort Erie and Niagara. This is not only good news for racing fans on both sides of the border, this is a sign and trigger for the future growth of the economy in the Town, the Region and the Province. Our entire CMS team, Town, Region and especially the MTO are to be applauded for this achievement.”
Alan Caslin, Chairman of The Niagara Region knows the MTO decision is an important economic step forward.
“Niagara Regional Council is pleased to see action by the Province on necessary steps to make the CMS project a reality. This significant foreign direct investment will create 750 jobs and is critical to drive new growth in our Regional economy.”
Niagara Regional Council supported the CMS project, including it in The Niagara Gateway Economic Zone and Centre Community Improvement Plan, which enables receipt of over $3 Million in grants and tax incentives.
Sandy Annunziata, Niagara Regional Councillor for Fort Erie, who’s been a tireless supporter of the CMS project since its inception, says the MTO decision is a critical move in the right direction.
“This is an important milestone that is the culmination of an incredible amount of hard work! To our friends at CMS, it confirms they have a partner in the Province. To the residents of Fort Erie and Niagara, it confirms a commitment to helping small communities reach their full economic potential. And to our Foreign Investors, it confirms Ontario is pursuing an agenda that makes investment like this a priority.”
Town of Fort Erie Mayor Wayne Redekop knows maximum effort was needed to secure MTO approval.
“This is extremely good news for all concerned and a relief, I am sure, for the team at CMS. A great deal of credit goes to Azhar Mohammed and his associates for their persistence, as well as to the staff of the Town of Fort Erie, the Region of Niagara, and their economic development arms. Now that this major hurdle has been overcome and with a focus on dealing with the servicing requirements for the site, we anxiously anticipate this project moving forward to make the vision a reality.”
Tom Kuchyt, Chief Administrative Officer, The Town of Fort Erie called the MTO decision very positive.
“The Bowen Road/QEW interchange will not require upgrading to a four lane structure, a cost that would have been borne by CMS. This leaves one remaining major hurdle relating to off-site infrastructure required for the development of the site. Efforts can now focus on providing sanitary and water servicing to the property. The Town couldn’t be happier and we would like to thank the MTO, The Region and all stakeholders involved in this outcome.”
It is hoped the next series of permits can be obtained to allow heavy equipment to return to the CMS site next summer to complete the relocation of Miller’s Creek and to begin excavation of the core property for the oval track and grandstands.
Construction completion is projected for third quarter 2017 barring any approval delays.