VIDEO: Warden Optimistic Highway 3 Expansion Will Happen

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The Warden of Essex County believes work to expand Highway will happen this time.

Ontario Transportation Minister Caroline Mulroney announced Monday that the province is moving ahead with a plan to expand the highway to four lanes, between Essex and County Rd. 34. While an exact timeline for the work has not been released, it's not expected to start until 2021.

Warden Gary McNamara is not concerned, saying projects of this scale do not happen overnight.

"It was time for this road to be done. Folks are saying 'why aren't you starting tomorrow?' Well, you know when you build a house it takes time, when you build a road it takes time," he says.

Local politicians and members of the public have been pushing for the highway to be expanded for a number of years, in light of the high number of serious crashes along the route and increased traffic due to the growing greenhouse sector in Essex County.

Statistics from the provincial government show as many as 17,300 vehicles per day travel Highway 3.

McNamara says the county will do whatever is necessary to help the province get the project moving.

"The next 18 months, a lot of work to be done and the county, as the Warden of Essex County, we're going to work 'hand in glove' with the province and make sure the project moves forward on time," he says.

While this isn't the first time the province has promised to expand the highway, McNamara hopes it happens this time.

"You always hope it's the real deal but the bottom line is, let's give them that opportunity," he says. "The previous government was given multiple opportunities to finish this roadway, five years as a matter of fact under the Wynne government and it was never done."

Mulroney says preliminary work on the widening work is already underway along with land acquisition and the hiring of an environmental consultant.

A budget for the project will not be announced until the contract is awarded.