June 28, 2018 by Jillian Morgan
TORONTO—A vertical expansion of Highway 401 near Toronto Pearson International Airport could relieve congestion on this “critical” stretch of road, according to the Toronto Region Board of Trade.
The board’s latest report puts forward recommendations to address the highway’s bottleneck – which it said costs households in the corridor an additional $125 annually.
One of three recommendations, the proposed “Super Express” expansion, includes a combination of double-decked construction, truck priority and autonomous vehicle-readiness.
The board did not present a figure for the expansion, but estimates the total cost could range from $4-10 billion based on similar projects in Texas.
Funds collected from tolls on the new lanes could cover construction and operations costs, said the board. It hopes tolling might also make the project attractive to the newly established Canada Infrastructure Bank, potentially opening up another source of funding.
To get the project underway, the board has called on the provincial government to undertake a business case feasibility analysis of the financial and engineering configurations.
Double-decking this eight-kilometre stretch of road aims to unblock the “most significant chokepoint” between Highways 409 and 427. Construction would begin on the road’s most congested section near Pearson, then move east toward the Don Valley Parkway.
Super Express would prioritize goods-movement vehicles, as well as buses, HOV/HOT and other preferred vehicles. Once autonomous vehicle technology has advanced, the entire express system could be dedicated to autonomous trucks, buses and cars, said the board.
Other recommendations in the report include off-peak deliveries and the introduction of a Transportation Mega Hub Council, similar to Montreal’s CargoM, a non-profit organization focused on transportation and logistics.