Smith - The Burlington Post
Feb 14, 2003
struck by how tough it is to find parking at mid-peninsula highway information
meetings. The lot is filled with cars of various sizes and the occasional
pickup truck or sport utility vehicle. I haven't seen anyone arrive
at these meetings by taxi or bus.
scene illustrates why there's a growing transportation mess in southern
Ontario. Our area is built for cars and trucks, suburban transit doesn't
offer total convenience and most people prefer cars for their core transportation.
proposed highway from Niagara to Hamilton/Halton has sparked legions
of local critics, with many bona fide arrows to fire at planners. They
note the road would be hugely expensive (more than $1 billion), increase
pollution and create urban sprawl. The Hwy. 407 connection runs close
to Waterdown and north Burlington population masses and cuts through
the Niagara Escarpment -- no wonder local politicians are lined up against
of the process runs high. Critics believe the province and transportation
planners are already committed to the highway. Surprise additions of
route alternatives (connecting it to Hwy. 407 or Hwy. 6) and the transportation
minister's comments about 'when the new highway is built', add to feelings
with Hwy. 401 and Hwy. 403 are other route alternatives. But skeptics
believe these routes are impractical and that planners will zero in
on the unpopular Hwy. 407 connection.
not sold yet on the mid-peninsula highway. But I've softened from my
initial reaction that it's an insane idea.
have presented compelling arguments that strong medicine is needed for
transportation west of Lake Ontario. The crucial one is that 2.5 million
more people are expected to live in south-central Ontario over the next
20 years. The accuracy of this prediction is key to whether the highway
tourism and trade growth from the Niagara border isalso
predicted. Planners add they have examined improvements to existing
highways, transit, rail and ferry service and that it's not enough.
is on the firing line for highway improvements, since it's strategically
located between Niagara, Toronto and southwestern Ontario. It's great
for prosperity, but there's a price to pay.
are also costs to expanding rail and transit services, such as larger
railway yard activity and more cargo shipped through communities. It
also means more apartments on nearby arterial roads, to encourage transit
not sure this has sunk in at meetings, where stopping or re-routing
the mid-peninsula highway is paramount for participants.
transportation planners are catching flak, while provincial government
officials are betting voters still prefer to hit the road rather than
making politicians do it.
saving grace is that this highway planning (with many years still ahead)
is producing some interesting transportation ideas. Special lanes for
car pools or buses, truck tolls for certain highways and railroad upgrades
for moving people and goods are among very good suggestions. Let's hope
these alternatives see the light of day and aren't lost in the debate
over whether to build a highway.
Smith can be reached at email@example.com