Re: 12-lane 403 a possibility (Nov 23)

Dave Eckersley, Hamilton.
This is the full version of the letter
to the editor printed in the Hamilton Spectator November 26, 2002

I see from this article that many in Hamilton are now up-in-arms about the prospect of a major new escarpment cut and a major highway expansion through parts of the city as a result of a route option now being considered for the new Mid-Peninsula Highway (MPH).

This outcry is remarkably similar to the one that has been going on in Burlington, Halton, the rural areas of Hamilton, and parts of Niagara for the last six months.

I even see that some Hamilton politicians are now concerned about the effects the road could have; the potential route adjustment has brought forth their concern about houses being expropriated, pollution, noise, the health of Cootes Paradise, the preservation of the escarpment, and the other negative consequences of building this highway.

But the point of this letter is not to say, "Ha Ha, how do you like it when it's in YOUR backyard?"

The point is to say that, wherever this road ends up, if it's built, it's going to have dreadful effects on its immediate neighbours AND on the environment and air quality over a much wider area. This is why some of us have been working to try to convince the Ontario government and the MTO that it's time for Ontario's transportation policy to move past its 1950's mindset in which a new chunk of pavement is the answer to all problems.

Sadly, paving new roads is all the MTO bureaucrats appear able to conceive of, despite their brave talk about "multi-modal" transportation strategies. Their only significant advancement in recent years is to come up with the idea of charging tolls on new highways.

A transportation policy for this century would include plans for public transit, improvements to rail, inter-modal depots at which goods may be switched between trucks and trains efficiently, better use of existing roads with dedicated lanes for different vehicles, and a host of other smarter strategies.

So, if Hamilton's government cares to join the fight, welcome. But let's keep in mind that the ultimate objective is to work towards an Ontario that is more efficient, cleaner, economically strong, boasts a state-of-the-art transportation infrastructure, and has the wisdom to preserve some green space for future generations.

It's not to push an environmentally-disastrous, noisy, vastly expensive, unnecessary, and wasteful project into somebody else's backyard.

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