The following is a response OSPE received from the Assistant Deputy Minister of Transportation in response to OSPE’s blog titled “OSPE calls on the Ontario Government to cancel its plan to build Highway 413”, which was released on the OSPE website and through social media on April 27, 2021.
Dear Mr. Perruzza,
The Ontario Ministry of Transportation (MTO) has reviewed and is pleased to respond to the Ontario Society of Professional Engineers’ blog titled “OSPE calls on the Ontario Government to cancel its plan to build Highway 413,” which was released on the OSPE website and through social media on April 27, 2021.
A new GTA West highway and transit corridor presents a timely and positive opportunity for sustainable economic growth in Southern Ontario. The Greater Golden Horseshoe (GGH) is projected to attract 1 million new people every 5 years, reaching nearly 15 million by 2051. This upcoming population growth will overwhelm the GGH’s existing infrastructure, which is critical to help move people and goods for the region. Stage 1 of the GTA West study identified that even with optimizing the existing transportation network, widening existing highways (including expansion of 407 ETR) and building all of the transit expansion projects identified by Metrolinx, additional road capacity is needed. Projections show that by 2031, more than 300,000 trips would be taken on the GTA West highway every day and someone travelling the full length of the route would save 30 minutes compared to the time it would take via Highways 401 and 400. This represents significant travel time savings for the people who live, work and travel through the western part of the GTA, which in turn increases the quality of life for Ontarians. The 30 second figure from a 2017 Advisory Panel Report was calculated by looking at the average time savings across the entire GGH and included every trip on every road in every region – including places that are nowhere near the proposed GTA West highway and transit corridor.
Any infrastructure project, including highways and transit, will result in impacts and opportunities to the natural, social, economic and cultural environments. MTO is fully committed to assessing the potential impacts of the GTA West highway and transit corridor and working with the appropriate advisory and regulatory agencies to avoid, minimize, mitigate and compensate for potential impacts. In fact, the Province is currently undertaking an Individual Environmental Assessment (EA) for the GTA West Highway and Transit Corridor, following the requirements of the approved Terms of Reference prepared in accordance with the Ontario Environmental Assessment Act. The results of this EA will be thoroughly reviewed to determine whether the project should proceed to subsequent stages of design, permitting and construction.
The GTA West project team is undertaking its work by collaborating closely with a fully integrated, multi-disciplinary group of professional engineers, planners, agrologists, geoscientists, ecologists, archaeologists, designers and other technical and environmental specialists. The project team is supported and advised by experts from within MTO and other Provincial ministries, regulatory agencies, municipalities and other advisory bodies. The Ministry’s consultants, WSP and AECOM, are global firms with significant local presence and extensive experience planning for mobility improvements in this region. MTO and the GTA West project team continue to welcome feedback from interested stakeholders at any time during the study.
Over the coming weeks, the project team will be releasing new content on our project website at gta-west.com to provide additional information about the EA process, further clarify the findings of the study thus far, and outline additional opportunities for public engagement. We encourage OSPE to review this information and to reach out to the MTO project managers to continue this dialogue. MTO would also be pleased to collaborate with OSPE on further communications about the project, in order to draw greater attention to the expertise being provided by professional engineers to this important initiative.
MTO and the GTA West project team wish to thank OSPE for their continued interest in the GTA West highway and transit corridor. We share OSPE’s commitment to engaging in professional and open dialogue as we continue to work toward smart, evidence-based and sustainable growth in the western GTA.
Jennifer Graham Harkness, P.Eng.
Assistant Deputy Minister / Chief Engineer
c: Michelle Pasqua, Director, Asset Management Branch, Transportation Infrastructure Management Division