Embattled Premier Doug Ford is apparently wanting more for King’s Highway 504 in the Greater Toronto Area, an area that contains six cities and the region’s sprawl.
Ford’s Transportation Minister, Jeff Yurek, on Wednesday commissioned an expert panel to make a recommendation about the highway, while continuing to maintain the existing configuration of two sets of highways that run through Kingsville and Windsor.
“The province is continuing to listen to the communities in Greater Toronto and surrounding regions,” Yurek said in a statement. “Residents are making their concerns about traffic congestion and environmental quality known to us.
“One of those concerns is ongoing traffic issues that exist on Highway 504 between Kingsville and Windsor, especially around Kingsville.”
The highway connects the growing corridors of highways 401 and 403 to the Ontario cities of London, Windsor, Kitchener, and Windsor.
In recent years, however, the cost of Highway 401 construction near Ontario Place and the Greyhound terminals has prompted wide speculation about the need for upgrades.
Two traffic studies in 2015, one commissioned by the Province of Ontario and the other done by an independent consultant firm, concluded the highway presented a “significant deterioration hazard” because of congestion, represented a risk of “increased corrosion and emulsified material corrosion,” and “negatively impacted performance by over one third of vehicles.”
Particularly as the sector grew, and travel between Windsor and London became more distinct, the highways running through the stretch of Highway 401 and Highway 401 Highway 427 were seen as having a “diminished financial rationale.”
The evaluation team concluded that a longer, wider highway would only make sense if all motor vehicles — buses included — were moving on and off at same time, and would only be a viable option once surface transportation facilities and amenities were available.
Mayor of Kingsville, Nelson Santos, told The Advocate that he would like to see a second highway on the area’s western edge built through the town to allow for faster service to Windsor.
Ford himself has spoken publicly about the need for the highway upgrades. After Ford’s government replaced former Liberal premier Kathleen Wynne in 2014, he spoke at a birthday celebration for Wynne’s late father.
“We’re focused on what’s important in people’s lives,” he said. “There’s no way we’re going to leave any neighbourhoods behind.”
While continuing to keep the current highways in place, Ford’s government also purchased hundreds of parcels of land across the region, including at the enormous former Ford Motor Company site in Oakville.
That purchase, along with the expansion of the Hartlepool Highway, appears to be on the government’s agenda for the coming year.
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