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Transit Project Uncovers Historic Road

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

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Construction workers in Canada found they had dug back in time while preparing a site for the region’s light rail transit project.

Work was halted last week when an excavator operator unearthed what is known as a “corduroy road”—an old log road likely to be culturally significant to the area, a local news station reported Monday (March 21).

Uncovering History

King Street in the city of Waterloo, Ontario, has been closed since early February as crews work to upgrade and relocate underground water services for the ION rapid transit project, CTV News Kitchener said.

Last week, the Regional Municipality of Waterloo notified local businesses that work was slowing as a result of the crew’s find. Licensed archaeologists had been brought on site to investigate the log road that had been uncovered.

Corduroy roads were an old method of improving the path of travel of low or swampy areas by building a roadway surface out of sand-covered logs placed perpendicular to the direction of travel.

The name comes from the road surface mimicking the look of corduroy fabric.

This particular road was likely one of the region’s first built roads, the news station noted.

“We are built on a historic site here, so we’re bound to find things that predate the known history,” said Waterloo Mayor Dave Jaworsky, “so it’s important for us to take care of it and take a close look at what it is.”

corduroy road
Public domain via Wikimedia Commons

Corduroy roads were an old method of improving the path of travel of low or swampy areas by building a roadway surface out of sand-covered logs placed perpendicular to the direction of travel.

The Region of Waterloo will not determine the site’s next step until archaeologists share their results.

Project Details

Officials also told 570 News, “[I]t’s too early at this point to speculate what, if any, impacts this will have to the overall ION construction schedule.”

According to the project website, ION was developed to bring light rail transit (LRT) to the Waterloo Region in two stages.

Stage 1 is a 36-kilometre corridor that includes 19 kilometres of LRT from the Conestoga Mall transit terminal in Waterloo to the Fairview Park Mall transit terminal in Kitchener. It also features 17 kilometres of adapted bus rapid transit (BRT) from the Ainslie Street transit terminal in Cambridge to the Fairview Park Mall transit terminal.

Stage 2 will see BRT converted to LRT, creating a 37 kilometre route of LRT across the three urban centres.

It is set to begin service in 2017.

The Canadian government is funding ION Stage 1 LRT, including $300 million from the Province, one-third of eligible costs up to $265 million from the federal government and $253 million from the Region of Waterloo.

GrandLinq, the region’s public-private partner on ION Stage 1 LRT, will design, build, finance, operate and maintain ION over the next 30 years.

GrandLinq is made up of key team members including Plenary Group, Meridiam Infrastructure, Aecon, Kiewit and Keolis.



Tagged categories: Construction; Infrastructure; Mass transit; North America; Program/Project Management; Public Transit; Rail; Transportation

Comment from Vernon Benjamin, (3/23/2016, 11:06 AM)

The corduroy road article was interesting. Here in the Northeast they called them plank roads. They had a brief florescence in the 1850s and 60s, when dozens of plank road companies were created. They were considered the height of progress at the time. Unfortunately, they miscalculated the lifespan and the roads deteriorated much more quickly than expected, causing major problems--worse conditions than before because of broken and rotting logs, horses with broken legs that had to be shot and left (with the carriages) by the roadside, things like that. A few continued--Lake George had one from Glens Falls as a tourist draw--but most of them disappeared after 10 of 12 years. Benson Lossing (1856) wrote about riding on them as if the carriage was riding down a railroad. The sand-covering is interesting, though;I don't think that was the practice here.

Comment from Fred Wittenberg, (3/23/2016, 7:36 PM)

Vernon Benjamin forgot about the use of corduroy roads during the Civil War. The Union Army had whole companies of axe men, without which, advancement couldn't have taken place to keep the forces moving under all weather conditions.

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