TORONTO – The Ontario budget unveiled Thursday by Finance Minister Charles Sousa includes $11.9 billion in funding for infrastructure and public transit projects in 2015-16. Here are 10 projects:
— REGIONAL EXPRESS RAIL: Service enhancements to the GO Transit network in the Greater Toronto Area are expected to lay the foundation for a Regional Express Rail network, which is eventually expected to have trains running up to every 15 minutes in core areas that include lines from Toronto to Oshawa, Burlington, Bramalea and Aurora.
— RAPID TRANSIT PROJECTS: The province is expanding vivaNext bus rapid transit in York region, continuing work on the Mississauga Transitway, which is expected to be completed by 2017, and is constructing the Waterloo Rapid Transit project.
— TORONTO TRANSIT: Plans are being made for a Finch West and Sheppard East Light Rail Transit project in north Toronto. Planning is also underway for, among other projects, the Yonge North subway extension and the Dundas street bus rapid transit linking Toronto, Mississauga, Oakville and Burlington.
— UNION-PEARSON EXPRESS: The dedicated rail link between Toronto’s Pearson International Airport and the city’s Union station begins service in June. By 2020 it is expected to attract about 2.5 million riders annually.
— LONG-TERM TRANSIT PLANS: Based on census data, the government says that over 10 years it will invest $16 billion in transit in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area and $15 billion in critical infrastructure projects elsewhere in the province.
— SOUTHERN ONTARIO HIGHWAYS: The government is widening Highway 401 in Peel Region and improving it in London, constructing a new alignment of Highway 7 between Kitchener and Guelph, widening Highway 417 in eastern Ontario and extending Highway 407 in the Clarington area.
— NORTHERN ONTARIO HIGHWAYS: Improvements are being made to highways in the province’s north, including widening and realigning sections of Highway 69 between Parry Sound and Sudbury, and parts of Highway 11/17 between Thunder Bay and Nipigon.
— LOCAL ROADS: The province is funding a Connecting Links program beginning in 2016-17 to help improve local roads that connect to the provincial highway network.
— ONLINE ACCOUNTABILITY: An online portal for the province to report publicly on construction progress on infrastructure projects will be established later this year.
— NATURAL GAS ACCESS: The province plans to help communities partner with utilities to expand access to natural gas supplies.