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At least seven years before LRT Stage 2 begins

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The Region of Waterloo is still at least seven years away from starting construction to connect the ION Light Rail Transit (LRT) to Cambridge.

"Probably no earlier than 2032 construction for stage two. But again, the exact timing will be dependent on a number of other steps in the middle," O’Neil said.

Since 2022, the region has been updating King Street from Sportsworld Drive to Highway 401. A part of that work has resulted in concrete medians on King Street that are designed to accommodate a future LRT.

"We reconstructed King Street here with a median that's wide enough to accommodate future LRT without ripping up the road again. It is concrete that acts as a barrier between traffic lanes and offers a maintenance free service," said Matthew O'Neil, manager of rapid transit coordination for the Region of Waterloo.

According to O’Neil, the phase of work between Sportsworld Drive and the 401 is nearly complete.

"This phase of the King Street Reconstruction project will be paved by Thursday night, and the remaining works will be completed by next week," O’Neil said.

Before any work can start on LRT construction, the region first needs to install similar medians on King Street from Sportsworld Drive to the Highway 8 overpass.

"That is anticipated roughly at about five years, give or take, for construction," O’Neil said.

The region did endorse the second stage route for the LRT to extend it 17.5 km’s and add seven new stops from the Fairway Station to downtown Cambridge. The region is just starting its initial business case for Stage 2 to establish who will do the work.

"It will quantify the costs and broader community benefits for the project and will provide regional council with a recommended alternative and form the basis of funding requests from the provincial and federal government," O’Neil said. "The initial business case is looking at LRT along that route. Other alternatives include shortened versions of LRT as well as a Cambridge Only LRT. The initial business case will also look at Bus Rapid Transit or BRT, along the same preferred route, also with dedicated exclusive lanes.”

The region will be providing updates on the construction phases as they begin. O’Neil said despite the headache it can cause for drivers, it’s needed work to improve the community.

"The Region is going to grow to more than a million people by 2051, and it's very important that we plan for that growth, that we bring it to the urban areas and we offer people options for transportation. We cannot continue building roads and widening roads forever," O’Neil said.

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