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Roads: Ontario/GTA Highways Discussion

Full report here:


I thought the tables were interesting - specifically showing which projects were deferred and which were advanced.

View attachment 442091

View attachment 442092

Interestingly - the 413 apparently scores

This is pretty insane, thanks for sharing. Yes politics for sure but we as a province did re-elect Douggie to 'get it done', whatever they changed 'it' to. :p

Based on these numbers if it costs the same to build a brand new freeway from Kitchener to Guelph as it does to add a median to the 401 west of London, it seems like a no-brainier what should be done first. Then again I am not a member of the PC party so...

Highway 413 was a major provincial election issue and the fact that every riding that the highway is planned to run through turned blue tells you something. Sure there are people making a lot of noise, and the feds want to flex some mussle with an enhanced EA, but this what 'the people' want appearently. If it scores that high in the MTO planning before politics muck things up, then it it is at least a project both planners and politicians can get behind I guess.



I know the previous Lib government campaigned hard on building the Highway 7 freeway but haven't heard nearly as much noise since Douggie took over. I guess just saying they're still committed to doing it is enough to win votes in this area- they don't need to build it (just yet anyway).

Just ONE more lane bro? Most of the recent widening projects are adding two or three more lanes each way if you count the HOV lanes.
i know its more than one lane. but the "just one more lane bro" is in regards to endless money spent on widenings thinking that it will solve congestion. I think ontario should follow the european model of building a highway network, and enhancing mobility and economic opportunity throughout the province. Instead of putting money towards endless widening and creating super highways. Which to be fair is less expensive, but inevitably will lead to inducted demand on an already heavily trafficked corridor. With new highway builds they also create induced demand, but it improves mobility for a new region and relieves adjacent highways/roads. The induced demand is also economic activity. By building new highways you also prevent the widenings of other rural roads and diver traffic.

Just my view. Im pro highway and transit, but against 12 lane super highways
 
i know its more than one lane. but the "just one more lane bro" is in regards to endless money spent on widenings thinking that it will solve congestion. I think ontario should follow the european model of building a highway network, and enhancing mobility and economic opportunity throughout the province. Instead of putting money towards endless widening and creating super highways. Which to be fair is less expensive, but inevitably will lead to inducted demand on an already heavily trafficked corridor. With new highway builds they also create induced demand, but it improves mobility for a new region and relieves adjacent highways/roads. The induced demand is also economic activity. By building new highways you also prevent the widenings of other rural roads and diver traffic.

Just my view. Im pro highway and transit, but against 12 lane super highways
Widening does fix congestion though. Just because it has less of an effect at rush hour doesn't mean it's dumb.

It seems almost all congestion outside rush hour is due to crashes or construction. Plus if induced demand worked how everyone thinks it does, we'd have way less cars trying to use the highways when they have several lanes closed (like in the summer when the 401 express was 1 lane!)
 
Widening does fix congestion though. Just because it has less of an effect at rush hour doesn't mean it's dumb.

It seems almost all congestion outside rush hour is due to crashes or construction. Plus if induced demand worked how everyone thinks it does, we'd have way less cars trying to use the highways when they have several lanes closed (like in the summer when the 401 express was 1 lane!)
yes because the 12 lane 401 is know for the excellent flow of traffic ;). Induced demand takes time. That's why after a widening traffic is good, but over time usually 2-3 years congestion begins to return.
 
Induced demand is a real thing which is severely misunderstood by the general public. It is not “any road project = worthless” like many believe, but rather a factor that has to be considered when designing a wider transportation network. It also applies to transit. Any new infrastructure which improves travel times is going to result in more people using it as it makes travel more convenient, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing depending on the context.
 
Induced demand is a real thing which is severely misunderstood by the general public. It is not “any road project = worthless” like many believe, but rather a factor that has to be considered when designing a wider transportation network. It also applies to transit. Any new infrastructure which improves travel times is going to result in more people using it as it makes travel more convenient, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing depending on the context.

Yes.

The induced demand argument by the general public doesn't really understand this - they are just repeating videos/articles they saw that don't give the create the greater context. Projections for future volume/usage/Level of service are usually accounted for well before any design work actually starts on these projects.
 
Yes.

The induced demand argument by the general public doesn't really understand this - they are just repeating videos/articles they saw that don't give the create the greater context. Projections for future volume/usage/Level of service are usually accounted for well before any design work actually starts on these projects.
yup.

The 401 widening to Milton for example may result in minimal improvements to travel time in the peak hour, but off peak periods will be substantially improved as people who previously avoided rush hour trips shift back to them with the new capacity.

Eventually the 401 will be backfilled with new demand, but the traffic will still be substantially better than if the project hadn't occured.

The central 401 through Toronto is unsurprisingly overloaded as the highway hasn't been substantially modified since the mid 1960's when Toronto was about 1/3 the size it is today. No wonder it's congested! When you put it in the context of it being the only toll-free east-west highway in a metro area of about 7 million people.. It's almost surprising traffic isn't worse than it actually is.

The reality is that Toronto just has generally terrible infrastructure of all kinds. It's roads are underbuilt, it's public transit terrible for the ridership it handles, etc. The city went 3 decades barely building anything other than a toll highway between 1980 and 2010.. and it's showing.
 
This is pretty insane, thanks for sharing. Yes politics for sure but we as a province did re-elect Douggie to 'get it done', whatever they changed 'it' to. :p

Based on these numbers if it costs the same to build a brand new freeway from Kitchener to Guelph as it does to add a median to the 401 west of London, it seems like a no-brainier what should be done first. Then again I am not a member of the PC party so...

Highway 413 was a major provincial election issue and the fact that every riding that the highway is planned to run through turned blue tells you something. Sure there are people making a lot of noise, and the feds want to flex some mussle with an enhanced EA, but this what 'the people' want appearently. If it scores that high in the MTO planning before politics muck things up, then it it is at least a project both planners and politicians can get behind I guess.



I know the previous Lib government campaigned hard on building the Highway 7 freeway but haven't heard nearly as much noise since Douggie took over. I guess just saying they're still committed to doing it is enough to win votes in this area- they don't need to build it (just yet anyway).

Just ONE more lane bro? Most of the recent widening projects are adding two or three more lanes each way if you count the HOV lanes.
From what I understand, they were close to getting the bridges built over the river.
 
yup.

The 401 widening to Milton for example may result in minimal improvements to travel time in the peak hour, but off peak periods will be substantially improved as people who previously avoided rush hour trips shift back to them with the new capacity.

Eventually the 401 will be backfilled with new demand, but the traffic will still be substantially better than if the project hadn't occured.

The central 401 through Toronto is unsurprisingly overloaded as the highway hasn't been substantially modified since the mid 1960's when Toronto was about 1/3 the size it is today. No wonder it's congested! When you put it in the context of it being the only toll-free east-west highway in a metro area of about 7 million people.. It's almost surprising traffic isn't worse than it actually is.

The reality is that Toronto just has generally terrible infrastructure of all kinds. It's roads are underbuilt, it's public transit terrible for the ridership it handles, etc. The city went 3 decades barely building anything other than a toll highway between 1980 and 2010.. and it's showing.
Toronto, the GTA, Chicago, the New York Region, Washington or just BosNYWashBalt, Cincy....they are all very similar re Highway and Interstate travel. There are areas, although as with the 401, ongoing renewal takes place, that cannot really be made functional larger in size or volume to any great degree. And the volumes of carriage keep increasing - both freight, people and the number of transportation units passing along these routes - cars, trucks etc. And I would say much the same about urban roads and transit. And building new highways through residential or greenbelt areas is either not politically popular or is just a non-starter. The only thing that can be said is that there are highway tolls in some places in the USA as a cost recovery and/or investment mechanism (although I have no detail on amounts or where the $ go) and probably some built in incentive to alternate forms of travel, although those choices can very widely in both quality and quantity. The tolls are a cost of business. And why not here? Reasonably Toll the 401 in the GTA, and the same for the QEW. Take those funds and invest in integrated transit (both locally and regionally)and invest in improvements and invest in alternate methods of moving long haul freight to last mile destinations. Make jumping in your SUV and driving to Sherway a conscious decision that has a value attached to it. If we are going to have better transit and more acceptable transit, if we are going to build/rebuild/renew better cities and the GTA, then we need to initiate and push/force more change and the $ cost ratio is the ultimate carrot in so many areas. And while you are at it, throw a larger luxury tax on personnel vehicles over $100k, throw a consumption tax on V8/V6 ICE vehicles, throw a tax on pickups (Pickups and the like are on average 30% less fuel efficient then a car carrying the same number of people). The government seems intent on settling an additional 3 million people over the next 20-25 years. The status quo cannot stand.
 
No.

Imagine a train line and highway running in parallel. Some people will always choose to use one or the other, but most people are swayed by a variety of factors, travel time, cost, etc.. Each mode has its benefits and drawbacks.

Now imagine a government widens the highway. Traffic levels are now lower on the highway. Some people who took transit will now see that using the highway is faster than it used to be and the scales are tipped in the direction of driving when previously they slightly preferred to take transit. They switch from using transit to driving and within a few years the capacity of the new lanes has been entirely consumed by new drivers.

At its absolute worst, induced demand looks like this: government improves highway, people switch from transit to driving, government sees traffic going up and transit use going down. Government spends more money building more highways, and cuts service on the train line. This makes driving better and transit worse, which causes even more people to make the switch, so government sees a demand for more lanes and fewer trains etc, etc, and suddenly you find yourself in a transit death spiral.
 
No.

Imagine a train line and highway running in parallel. Some people will always choose to use one or the other, but most people are swayed by a variety of factors, travel time, cost, etc.. Each mode has its benefits and drawbacks.

Now imagine a government widens the highway. Traffic levels are now lower on the highway. Some people who took transit will now see that using the highway is faster than it used to be and the scales are tipped in the direction of driving when previously they slightly preferred to take transit. They switch from using transit to driving and within a few years the capacity of the new lanes has been entirely consumed by new drivers.

At its absolute worst, induced demand looks like this: government improves highway, people switch from transit to driving, government sees traffic going up and transit use going down. Government spends more money building more highways, and cuts service on the train line. This makes driving better and transit worse, which causes even more people to make the switch, so government sees a demand for more lanes and fewer trains etc, etc, and suddenly you find yourself in a transit death spiral.
This sort of thinking makes a lot of assumptions. I take transit because it's faster than driving and parking is killer downtown.
Increasing highway capacity helps since there is always a crash on weekends on most of the highways so more lanes means a crash or lane closure will have less of an effect.
Not everyone can use transit for every trip
 
Not everyone can use transit for every trip
Hence why I said "Some people will always choose to use one or the other".

If you need to carry a large object, obviously you will choose to drive. If you're too poor to afford a vehicle, you will pretty much always choose transit. But for most people, they could choose either based on what they value (cost, speed, etc.).
 
No.

Imagine a train line and highway running in parallel. Some people will always choose to use one or the other, but most people are swayed by a variety of factors, travel time, cost, etc.. Each mode has its benefits and drawbacks.

Now imagine a government widens the highway. Traffic levels are now lower on the highway. Some people who took transit will now see that using the highway is faster than it used to be and the scales are tipped in the direction of driving when previously they slightly preferred to take transit. They switch from using transit to driving and within a few years the capacity of the new lanes has been entirely consumed by new drivers.

At its absolute worst, induced demand looks like this: government improves highway, people switch from transit to driving, government sees traffic going up and transit use going down. Government spends more money building more highways, and cuts service on the train line. This makes driving better and transit worse, which causes even more people to make the switch, so government sees a demand for more lanes and fewer trains etc, etc, and suddenly you find yourself in a transit death spiral.
This is a very contextual example, because the reality is side by side comparisons between "a train line" and "a highway" barely, if ever exist. Not only does your example assume that transit and highways are competitive, but that they serve similar enough markets that people can choose one or the other. Very rarely is this actually the case, especially in Toronto/GTHA. In fact, many cities that often widen highways that people like to point to as examples of Induced Demand in action often show no such thing. A prime example of this is LA where the only public transit is an abysmally slow Light Rail system, and a commuter rail that at best runs every 2 hours, and doesn't even serve that many destinations. Induced Demand simply can't happen in the way you describe it because the people who are benefiting from a highway widening are unlikely to be previous transit riders.

The same principle applies in Toronto. Sure we have a pretty good transit network especially with GO transit feeding the downtown core, but the reality is that A) GO is very radial, and whilst it's amazing heading into downtown Toronto, for most other trips it's pretty bad. 2) Most of our widening projects are on corridors that aren't really heading into downtown, and are instead more suburban sections of our highway network. The many widenings we do for the 401 mostly serve the transit starved Mississauga and North York, and the newly widened 400 and under construction 404 serve York Region. Those expanded highways aren't really competing for downtown bound traffic, and as such aren't pulling ridership from transit.

In short, your entire scenario is moot, and doesn't represent the actual impacts of how we widen our highways in any meaningful way.
 
I'm frankly baffled that the idea of induced demand is so widely doubted. Reduce the time cost of driving = more driving.
Let me put it this way: There's no doubt that it's a thing and you would have to disagree with a lot of evidence to say that it's not. Whether we want that induced demand or not is the main argument. Believe it or not, there are some cases in which you might want induced demand weirdly enough as it sounds. There are also many cases where you absolutely do not want it. I digress.
 

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