It seems the taxpayers in Ontario are paying for the warm-up to next June’s provincial election. Premier Doug Ford is betting that any and all mention of the Bradford Bypass and Highway 413 is another conservative re-elected. Ford is betting that voters in the greater Toronto area (GTA) are tired of the gridlock around Toronto and the hours spent on gridlocked highways.
But what Doug Ford does not seem to realize is that there are many years of planning behind these projects and they also require many years of any construction. And, frankly, the wasted time on the Highway 413—going from nowhere to nowhere—would involve paving over some very fine farmland and critically needed wetlands. The only people pleased with that bad planning are the developers who have been buying up the farmland around where the 413 would intersect with existing major north-south routes.
A government concerned about our environment would have ended the Hwy 413 speculation years ago. What the previous government was working on was the electrification of the GO trains. This is a critical need to speed commuter services. It requires new overpasses and power lines but will add more trains, coming up to speed faster and stopping faster. It will cut commute time. On the Barrie to Toronto run, a half hour can be cut from the time needed from Kempenfelt Bay to Union Station. The less pollution is a bonus.
And while the idea of having these new highways as toll roads must leave conservatives with goosebumps, Mr. Ford is denying it. He is at least smart enough to know that Ontario voters are annoyed with the tolls on the 407, 412 and 418. Not only are they priced too high for the benefits they offer but the money from them does not go to building new roads. After the election, the conservatives might get greedy and start selling toll roads again.
And the least likely to ever be a toll road—or anything else—is the 413. That particular plan parallels the 407 electronic toll route, only a short distance south. Having those two highways feeding west bound traffic onto the 401 near Georgetown is quite ridiculous. The Bradford bypass was never supposed to be a toll road as it is designed to move traffic from highway 404 over to highway 400 to take it around Lake Simcoe.
It should be mentioned that when the conservative government of Mike Harris leased Hwy 407 for 99 years, they got $3.1 billion for it. Today the highway is estimated to be worth ten times as much to the investor group.
Copyright 2021 © Peter Lowry
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