Ontario has opened two new lanes on Highway 410, from Highway 401 to Queen Street in Brampton, to improve traffic flow and get commuters moving.
In a press conference with the highway as a backdrop, Steven DelDuca, the Minister of Transportation for the Province of Ontario, announced the official opening of two new lanes on the busy section of the 410 highway which connects Brampton to the 401 and 403 highways.
“Two of the additional lanes, one northbound and one southbound general-purpose lanes are now officially open to traffic,” said DelDuca, flanked by Brampton MPPs Amrit Mangat, Harinder Malhi, and Vic Dhillon, as well as Brampton Mayor Linda Jeffrey. “The work that’s being undertaken, will continue to be undertaken, repairing and widening Highway 410 from six to ultimately ten lanes.”
The scope of the work includes building HOV lanes in each direction, seven bridge improvements, new ramps at the 401/403 interchange, new high mast lighting, carpool lots, and the planting of thirty thousand shrubs and three thousand trees along the route. Ontario is investing approximately $156.7 million in the project. The HOV lanes are expected to open next fall.
Mayor Linda Jeffrey welcomed the news. “The 410 is a major artery that connects jobs and investment to the city and the region. These two lanes will help our existing industry to attract further investment and more efficiently move more people and goods in and around the Greater Toronto Area.”
The Mayor listed the numerous benefits that the city currently enjoys, including its close proximity to airports, the innovation supercorridor that connects the city to Waterloo and Toronto, and the new university that has been announced for the downtown area, all of which means that Brampton will continue to attract more people and jobs which will be well served by stronger roads and transit infrastructure.
“Thank you for the early Christmas gift,” she added.
In her comments, Harinder Malhi, the MPP for Brampton-Springdale, said she expects to personally enjoy the improved highway in her daily commute to Queen’s Park. “Our community is more than happy to have these two lanes open here. This is going to make life easier for Bramptonians, for families, so they can get home to their families a lot quicker.”
Approximately 200,000 vehicles use Highway 410 every day. For years, residents in the city have been clamoring for improvements, citing long commutes and gridlock, especially during morning and afternoon rush hours. While the news of new lanes is likely to be welcomed by users of the road, some experts believe the advantages of more lanes will not be appreciated for very long.
Kevin Montgomery, founder of Fight Gridlock, an advocacy group that promotes increased transit and cycling options for Brampton residents, believes that “induced demand” will quickly fill up the extra lanes. “A highway expansion will invite more people to use the 410, consuming the available space. That traffic funnels into our local arterials, backing them up and increasing the likelihood of collisions. From there into our neighbourhoods, increasing precarious situations for vulnerable road users. This will place extra burden on health care and law enforcement services, in turn increasing our taxes and insurance rates to service costs associated with the risks of driving.”
Induced demand is a well studied phenomenon that has led to highways like the Embarcadero Freeway in San Francisco being removed. Advocates suggest that less road building and a shift to an emphasis on building transit makes better use of scarce infrastructure dollars to offer residents alternatives to driving.
It’s that kind of thinking that put the brakes on another major highway project in Brampton, dubbed the “GTA West Corridor” or Highway 413, that has been proposed to be built to surround Brampton’s north and western boundaries, essentially forming a ring highway that connects Vaughn to Milton.
In December 2015, the Province announced a suspension of the environmental assessment for the GTA West Corridor project citing changing factors in transportation technology which necessitated a “rethink” of the project. A review panel has now submitted a report to the Minister of Transportation and an update on the future of the GTA West Corridor is expected in the upcoming months.
The push for more transit options continues in Brampton, especially, where recent numbers reveal that transit ridership in the city has exploded by 17% in the past year. The City is planning to increase service levels by hiring additional drivers, purchasing at least sixty new buses, and announcing new service hours to meet the demand of over 27 million riders.
In the meantime, Brampton is a logistical hub and also needs capacity for trucks and cargo. These added lanes will go a long way to ensure that the city can continue to meet the needs of both business and residents.