Construction of a new Highway 7 between Kitchener and Guelph has hit the point where preparatory work is visible to anyone travelling near the Kitchener end of the current highway.

After all necessary property for the highway was acquired, Ontario’s Ministry of Transportation started prep work in 2015.

Now, Shirley Avenue is being widened near the future highway, while Victoria Street is occasionally being blocked to traffic for utility relocation work. Design and engineering work is also taking place.

It’s enough to suggest the project, which has been promised by Queen’s Park for nearly half a century but never delivered, might finally be moving ahead.

But it’s not enough to ease the concerns of people who have lived through past sporadic spurts of activity on the file – particularly given the news that the province’s own transportation program forecasts a completion date of “beyond 2021.”

“It’s getting very frustrating,” says Art Sinclair, vice-president of the Greater Kitchener-Waterloo Chamber of Commerce.

“I think (for) everyone here in Kitchener-Waterloo and Guelph, it’s just not proceeding at the rate that we feel it should be going at.”

According to Sinclair, the current highway is used by between 25,000 and 30,000 vehicles per weekday – many of them commuting to and from work. It’s also a popular route for transport trucks.

“It’s just not appropriate infrastructure for the volume of traffic that’s moving back and forth,” he says.

The heavy traffic keeps the parking lot busy at Frannie’s Restaurant and Bar, near Breslau – just not always with customers.

Restaurant owner Frances Adsett says she regularly sees drivers use her parking lot as a way to jump the line at the traffic light.

“It gets very frustrating,” she says.

“Something definitely should be done … and sooner rather than later.”

Once complete, the new highway will run along a route just north of the existing Highway 7, between the Conestoga Parkway and the north end of the Hanlon Expressway.

With reporting by Stu Gooden