Between 30 to 60 seconds’: New 400-series highway won’t improve commutes for Georgetown commuters Report suggests new highway won’t cut local commuters’ travel time

Plans for a new highway that will ease traffic congestion through the Greater Toronto Area has been opposed by several groups in favour of alternative forms of transit.

The GTA West Highway, Highway 413, will pass through Halton Hills – stretching from Hwy. 407 in Milton to Hwy. 400 in Vaughan.

“The major issue is that this project is going to have significant impact on the environment and the communities through which it will pass,” said Keith Brooks, program director for Environmental Defense, “and it will deliver next to nothing in terms of benefits.”

According to a report commissioned by the Ontario government in 2018, the GTA West Corridor would save the average commuters between 30 and 60 seconds of travel time per trip.

By 2031, according to a release from the Ontario government, more than 300,000 vehicles will travel on the new route daily.

A report from Environmental Defense cites “induced demand” as a critical flaw in building the highway.

“Research has shown that construction of new highway capacity is met soon thereafter with an exactly proportionate increase in traffic,” the report states.

The cost of the highway is estimated at about $6 billion.

“For a comparable amount of money, you could move four times the amount of people by investing in public transit,” Brooks said.

Environmental Defense outlines a number of options for mass transit in the report totalling an estimated $6.9 billion, including GO expansion for the Milton Line and Kitchener Line.

While neighbouring Milton is one of the fastest-growing cities in Canada, with 30.5 per cent population growth since 2011, Environmental Defense said the new highway would not connect local commuters to employment centres in Peel Region or downtown Toronto.

While the GTA West Corridor project was halted by the Wynne government shortly before the 2018 election, the Ford government resumed the project’s environmental assessment phase shortly after taking office.

The Ontario government recently announced streamlining measures to speed up the environmental assessment for the project, which is expected to be completed by the end of 2022.

The comment period has closed for the GTA West Corridor, but Brooks said he urged concerned citizens to contact their MPPs and ministers to voice their concerns.

“Tell them you don’t want the project to go forward,” Brooks said. “The highway is going to cause serious impacts and will do nothing to alleviate congestion.”