By: Laura Steiner
The announcement of plans to widen highway 401 isn’t what you would call new. They’ve been around for five years, as part of a GTA West Draft Transportation Strategy. They were presented by Ministry of Transportation (M.T.O.) to residents in June, 2012.
The only difference in this plan is the stretch of highway between James Snow Parkway and Highway 25. In 2012, M.T.O. wanted it as 12 lanes, and it’s now down to a 10 lane stretch. The idea of selling this as a new idea is a joke.
What this is more likely about is transit. I get countless government news releases every week from the province. I’d say one or two deal with major transit announcements. That could refer to the idea that one line is getting increased service, additional parking at one station, another completely refurbished.
Metrolinx is going to push the idea of full-day transit service on the Milton line to beyond their 2041 outlook. Metrolinx’s website now indicates the decision to alter might have come in 2013. The announcement was only made public by officials with the Region of Halton in February, 2017. The “Big Move” is now being reviewed.
When you place today’s announcement of the 401 widening into that context, it’s almost like the provincial government is patting Milton on the head. “There, there Milton it’ll be okay. No transit you desperately need, but you get an expanded 401. That’s something right?”
Local officials would argue no. The transit is needed to take cars off the road, and move people mainly between Milton and Toronto. The 401 needs widening in order to move goods through the province. The stretch between Quebec, and Windsor is among the busiest stretches of highway in North America. We need both, a fact that escapes many in the provincial government.