Backroom Briefing Q: Is Ashburnham Drive A Rough Road to Tourism?

Q: Ashburnham Drive: Are there any plans to upgrade or repave this road in order to make it attractive for our visiting tourists? We seem to have an active tourism office, but when people actually visit they shouldn’t have their travel memory include a description of a poorly-maintained access road. —JC Gonder

Goyette: JC's concern is understandable, in that he and his associates at Promotion Marketing and Design and Whatever Solutions and Media on Pido Road have a direct interest in the state of a key access road to their offices.

The research shows that they are not alone. People care about the quality of their roads, and especially in four season climates. When surveyed on municipal services, people routinely rank roads as a key concern in terms of safety, speeding, repair, parking, snow removal, litter, drainage, runoff, sidewalks and accessibility. Cynical pragmatists have long contended that decisions related to highway repair were closely correlated with political partisan representation and the timing of elections. In some constituencies, good roads are a magnet for good votes.

Ashburnham Drive is a gateway to a surprisingly large number of City sites, including Ecology, Beavermead , Farmcrest, Eastgate and Walker Parks; The Trans Canada Trail; Rogers Cove; the PUC and Parks Canada buildings; Lock 20 and the nationally significant Liftlock; and Ashburnham Memorial Park and Peterborough Museum and Archives.

The heritage of the road is strongly tied to the former Village of Ashburnham, a community on the east bank of the Otonabee founded in 1859 and connected to Peterborough at the time by the Howe truss wooden bridge. The Village was annexed by the City of Peterborough on December 2, 1903—the result of a vote favoured by only 99 of 178 Village voters. The village Council itself was very cautious about its own road expenditures: the first sidewalks on today’s Hunter Street were approved on condition that they were limited to two wooden planks per side, and that the planks be laid parallel to the roadway rather than at more expensive right angles.

Traffic counts on Ashburnham Drive from Lansdowne East to Marsdale Drive undertaken last November indicate that the road is heavily used; the average weekly traffic count was 7,148 (northbound) and 7,463. (southbound) This year, during March and April when the roadway is vulnerable, commercial vehicles on Ashburnham will be restricted to half loads.

The approved 2012 City of Peterborough Capital Budget includes $3.8 million (2011 dollars) for major reconstruction of Ashburnham Drive from Lansdowne to Maria Street involving new asphalt pavement, concrete curbs and gutters, sidewalks, bicycle lanes and storm sewers, all of which will coincide with water main improvements to be undertaken by the Public Utilities Commission. The detailed design will be completed in 2013 and the construction completed in 2014.

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David Goyette is the Executive Assistant to Peterborough Mayor Daryl Bennett. Email your burning questions for David about City Hall to feedback@ptbocanada.com.

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