$5.9M route bridges gap in trail network

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It’s going to take two bridges and $5.9 million, but a frustrating gap in London’s trail network may finally be filled in next year.

When the 900-metre trail between Ross Park and the North London Athletic Sports Fields is completed, the city will have 42 continuous kilometres on the Thames Valley Parkway walking/cycling trail.

A cyclist or walker will be able to go from Byron to the Kilally area where the trail is being extended east of Highbury Avenue.

The new connecting trail route will wind through a vacant woodland on the north side of the Thames River, with portions owned by the Sisters of St. Joseph and Scouts Canada. Two 40-metre connecting bridges will cross the Thames River at either end and connect to the existing trail.

Andrew Macpherson, the city’s manager of environmental and parks planning, said staff considered seven options, including some on the south side of the river. The chosen route was not the most expensive and will have the least impact, he said.

“It’s a straight line across the river valley that will have the least environmental and social impact and have some construction advantages.”

Cyclists now trying to travel across the north end of the city hit a dead end at Ross Park and the North London Sports Fields off Adelaide Street. They’re forced to take a detour that includes a busy stretch of Richmond Street.

Henk Ketelaars, a veteran member of the city’s cycling advisory committee, said a plan to fill in the gap was considered more than 20 years ago and the price tag back then was more like $1 million.

But he said an unbroken 42-km trail would be “awesome” and he’s delighted the north end link is finally being built.

“As a cyclist, it’s a very hard gap to get around,” Ketelaars said.

Dan Hall, director of Cycle Link, a London cycling advocacy group, said filling the Ross Park-Adelaide gap will be a major milestone.

“It’s been our number 1 priority because it offers so much connectivity.”

Macpherson said the plan to build the link was endorsed by city council last July and a condensed environmental assessment was completed.

But the project was delayed when a single resident objected and requested a full environmental assessment.

The provincial Ministry of the Environment reviewed the project details and the objection and finally granted approval in mid April.

The project is going to the design and tendering process and the city is applying for a federal/provincial infrastructure grant because not all of the funding is in place.

If there are no further delays, Macpherson said construction would begin in January.

“That’s the time to do it because the habitat is far less sensitive in January than in the middle of summer.”



Thames Valley Parkway

  • An asphalt surface accessible to pedestrians and cyclists that follows the north, south and main branches of the Thames River
  • The trail is between 2.4 and four metres in width. It is 40 kilometres long but has gaps. It is linked to more than 150 kilometres of additional pathways across the city.

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