Hwy. 3 Expansion Funding Not Included in Ontario Budget

A promise to expand Highway 3 between Essex and Leamington remains unfulfilled.

When the Ontario budget was tabled Thursday, it included no funding to expand the highway to four lanes.

During the 2018 provincial election, then candidate, Doug Ford promised Windsor-Essex residents that he would expand the highway "immediately" if he were elected.

The Progressive Conservative government announced $1.3-billion dollars in late March to rebuild and restore 123 provincial highways but, again, no funding was announced for Highway 3.

Ontario Transportation Minister Jeff Yurek hinted it would be addressed in the budget during a stop in Leamington in March.

Windsor-Tecumseh New Democrat MPP Percy Hatfield was disappointed there was no funding in the budget and spoke to Yurek Thursday.

"He just says they're working on it and there's nothing in this budget that says Hwy. 3 is going to be done any time in the near future and that's unfortunate," Hatfield says. "When Doug Ford came to our area and he said that was going to be an immediate priority, they're going to do that highway twinning immediately, immediately is different word from not being in this budget."

Essex County Warden Gary McNamara believes it's time to push harder on this issue.

"During the AMO [Association of Municipalities of Ontario] Conference that's coming up in August, I think we need to open up even more dialogue and try to get some sort of commitment in the near future," he says.

While disappointed by the news, McNamara says it's not the end of the road.

"A promise was made and we're hoping that, sooner than later, they'll come to the table and fulfill that promise," he added.

Right now, the highway narrows from four lanes to two just east of County Rd. 8.