EDITORIAL: Real Roads, not Fantasies will Move Ontario’s Economy Forward


By Stephen Laskowski 

The Ontario government’s announcement to move forward with building Highway 413, a new 400-series highway and transit corridor across Halton, Peel and York regions, was highly welcomed by the Ontario Trucking Association (OTA) and the rest of the province’s trucking industry and truck drivers.

The highway will bring relief to the most congested corridor in North America and play a critical role in the province’s plan for economic recovery, growth, and job creation. Extending from Highway 400 in the east to the Highway 401/407 express toll route (ETR) interchange area in the west, the four-to-six-lane highway, will include dedicated infrastructure for trucking and intelligent transportation and truck parking.

Preliminary design of the preferred route has commenced for this essential project. Highway 413 is expected to support up to 3,500 jobs each year and generate up to $350 million in annual real gross domestic product (GDP).

The OTA strongly believes that Highway 413 will fill infrastructure gaps in Ontario’s roadway links to the benefit of the province’s transportation and logistics hubs in the Northwestern GTA that serve as the epicentre of Canada’s supply chain.

Increased investment

By providing congestion relief for Highway 401 and adding redundancy to the GTA’s 400-series network, the new highway will significantly improve transit times for goods movement to central and Northern Ontario while strengthening the connection for Canada’s busiest truck-rail intermodal facilities.

Highway 413 is not only a fundamental piece of infrastructure, but also a key part of Ontario’s success in the future, which will result in increased investment to Ontario, including many regions currently being underserved, for decades to come.

Opponents of the highway are once again floating impractical alternatives to building Highway 413, including the tiresome proposal of having the government fund tolls for trucking companies on the private 407 highway, north of Toronto.

407 plan impractical

There are a host of issues with this impractical solution but ask yourself what happens to the trucks and passenger vehicles in the future, when the 407 is as congested as other corridors. What will we do then?

The cost of congestion to the Ontario economy was estimated to be $11 billion in 2022. The American Transportation Research Institute estimated in a 2023 report that highway traffic congestion costs the trucking industry about US$7,000 per truck, per year in lost productivity.

This congestion cost figure is very transferable to Ontario, and for carriers travelling certain lanes this figure may be too low.

Congestion creates emissions

ATRI also determined that more than 25.4 billion liters of diesel were needlessly emitted into the atmosphere due to trucks stuck in traffic. If we extrapolate this idling figure for the Canadian fleets, approximately 1/10th the size of American trucking industry, congestion due to idling would represent just over 800 million liters of diesel fuel.

What we need now are practical polices and viable long-term solutions for all road users, transportation companies and businesses that rely on the efficient movement of goods throughout the Ontario supply chain.

Investments in highways reduce needless emissions and are an investment in our supply chain and all the current and future participants in it. It’s time to build Highway 413.

Originally published in TruckNews.com

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