The Ford government is celebrating a new milestone in its ambitious highway and transit expansion plan with the opening of a widened section of Highway 401 in Cambridge, Ont.
On Friday, the province announced eight kilometres of new lanes had opened on the highway between Townline Road and Highway 8.
The section of Highway 401 will now be 10 lanes wide, including high occupancy vehicle lanes in both directions to allow cars with more passengers to skip traffic.
The expansion runs for seven kilometres westbound and 4.5 eastbound.
“Highway 401 is the busiest and most congested highway in North America with up to 150,000 vehicles travelling between Highway 8 and Townline Road every day,” Prabmeet Sarkaria, Minister of Transportation, said in a statement.
He said the expanded roadway would “reduce gridlock, enhance safety, boost our economy, and get drivers home to their loved ones faster.”
As part of the expansion, the government has replaced bridges, added some new pedestrian crossings and reconstructed an interchange.
The project is part of a massive highway and transit push being pursued by the Ford government.
Highway 413 and Bradford Bypass have been the signature projects pushed by the government during the 2022 election, with billions also being poured into subway expansion, particularly in and around Toronto.
Highway 413 has been a lightning rod for environment advocates, who have argued the project could threaten the protected Greenbelt and will lead to more traffic in the long run as more communities become dependent on the car.
The Ford government, on the other hand, has heralded it as a solution to gridlock by offering a new highway route to alleviate the strain on existing infrastructure.
Ontario is currently pushing the courts to allow it to resume construction on the project, which was frozen by a federal decision in 2021.
Local Progressive Conservative MPP Brian Riddell called the expansion of Highway 401 a “transformative moment for our region,” while Kitchener South – Hespler MPP Jess Dixon said it was a “crucial step.”
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