OSPE calls on the Ontario Government to cancel its plan to build Highway 413

The Ontario Society of Professional Engineers is calling on the Ontario Government to cancel its plan to build Highway 413, which would run through Ontario’s Greenbelt.

highway 413The GTA-West Transportation (GTAW) Corridor, otherwise known as Highway 413, was under an Environmental Assessment (EA) study by Ontario since 2007. The highway portion of the EA was cancelled by the previous provincial government in spring 2018, based on a report by an expert Advisory Panel that found that the highway would deliver few benefits, and could not be justified.

The report concluded that “on its own, the proposed new GTAW highway corridor would deliver approximately savings of about 30 seconds per vehicle trip”. In addition, the panel was concerned that adding highway capacity could induce more vehicular travel, and potentially further undermine complete community policy goals and provincial commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Experts also found that Highway 413 could negatively impact natural areas such as rivers, valley lands, wetlands, conservation areas and forested areas, including approximately 53 river and stream crossings. Its construction would lead to loss of thousands of hectares of prime agricultural lands, including about 1000 hectares in the Greenbelt in Vaughan.

The cost of the transportation corridor was estimated in 2012 to be $4.8 Billion. This cost will undoubtedly be more now due to inflation, as well as increased construction and land acquisition costs.

Nearly every municipality along the route of Ontario’s proposed Highway 413 has withdrawn their support or joined calls for Ottawa to intervene. Peel Region has now recently turned its back against the project, joining the municipalities of Mississauga, Vaughan, Halton Hills, Halton Region and Orangeville.

OSPE welcomes needed investment in infrastructure that is “shovel-worthy”, and able to provide long term benefits to Ontarians. Unfortunately, Highway 413 is not the answer. As the expert panel recommended, the government should assess other alternative actions that are capable of providing benefits equivalent to or greater than the recommended new corridor. These include congestion pricing, priority truck lanes on Highway 407 and growth management, as well as increased investment in public transit systems throughout the GTA.

To build long-term sustainable infrastructure, it is imperative that the government consult appropriately with stakeholders and the communities affected. These consultations must be transparent and information should be shared throughout the entire process.

OSPE also wants to stress the need for all levels of government to retain expert engineering input on transit infrastructure to guarantee short and long-term transportation planning that best serves the Greater Toronto Area for the upcoming years.

Update (May 3, 2021): The federal government says it is stepping in to do its own environmental assessment of Highway 413.

Update #2 (June 29,2021): OSPE has received a response from the Ministry of Transportation regarding this blog. Click here to read their response. 

What do you think about the Highway 413 project? Let us know in the comments!

This Post Has 11 Comments

  1. Ann Seymour

    Thank you for asking the Ontario Government to cancel its plan to build Highway 413. Creative problem solving is required to mitigate the GTA’s traffic congestion and truck haulage issues. No need to reinvent the wheel as one solution is to look to Europe’s Road Management Systems and Intelligent Roads plans for effective solutions at less cost. 1. Germany scheduled two hours per weekday where truck haulage was not permitted on highways allowing commuters to get to work and school in less time; one hour during morning rush hour and the second hour during the evening rush hour. I understand that this practice would take a societal shift in Ontario.
    2. Germany has perhaps the longest history of speed harmonization projects, dating back to the 1970’s. Their experience has shown that speed harmonization results in lower accident rates and typically results in a (5-10 percent) increase in roadway capacity. This is accomplished in part because the variable speed limits decrease the likelihood of severe congestion by increasing the stability of traffic flow (translated from “Europe on Course—Telematics on German Roads” German Ministry for Transportation, Construction and Housing 2005).
    3. The measurement of traffic density and the typical classes of vehicles (cars, trucks, motorcycles, etc.) allows intelligent traffic control systems to designate ideal speed limits based on this rule of thumb: “the more traffic, the lower the recommended speed to avoid traffic jams.”
    4. In conjunction with opening a temporary hard shoulder to traffic during rush hour, this allows an increase in the typical traffic throughput of significantly more than 10 percent.

    Leadership requires knowledge, creative solutions, plus fundamental shifts in practices.
    We already have an east-west highway it is called the 407. Subsidize truck haulage to use one lane of the 407. Thank you for your integrity in working to halt this folly.

  2. Sergio Simone

    I agree with the OSPE assessment. We have to Stop the 413. Once these thousands of hectares of wetlands, greenlands and farmlands are destroyed, they are lost forever. This land is not a “renewable” asset.

  3. Judy Doerr

    It is unconscionable to pave over wetlands, greenbelts, farmland, any green spaces….ANYWHERE…given the documented environmental scientific evidence about there critical importance to mitigating climate change and supporting HEALTHY COMMUNITIES water resource systems and natural herirage systems. Where does Ford/conservative party get their urban planning information ….they are environmental dinosaurs. …absolutely unacceptable decision making for the 21st century. They must be stopped.

  4. Elizabeth Forrest

    Thank you to OSPE for your support to stop this highway being built. A backward step supporting ever expanding suburbs which are entirely dependant on the car and hence continuation of fossil fuel emissions and the deadening affect of traffic corridors on natural habitats!

  5. Margaret Beaudette

    I sincerely hope this highway is cancelled. It is BAD for so many reasons. I’m wondering if this government listens to anyone but developers???

  6. Sharon

    Thank you for attempting to encourage good sense in the provincial government This is a ridiculous waste of money and green space.

  7. R. Jones

    OSPE: Article is bang on. Tor. Star article recently shows where the needed money to buy the required land to do this is going. Can you say Ford and buddies. The truck lane suggestion on 407 makes a ton of sense. With fees for 407, just ask surrounding areas about truck traffic.

  8. Stephen Taft

    I agree, stop this madness

  9. Andy Bowers

    Well done OSPE speaking inarguable truth to power.

  10. Vicki Hotte

    Wonderful to see OSPE challenge the ‘need’ for this highway. On the basis of extensive ecological damage alone (tied to even greater waste of tax dollars to sink Ontario ‘further into the red’), this project should NEVER have been revived. Also good to see OSPE’s use of the phrase “shovel-worthy”, as opposed to the political knee-jerk babble of “shovel-ready”. Government believes it can stick a shovel anywhere in the ground, while OSPE asks, “Is this really worth it?”

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