Category Archives for "Highways and Bridges"

Jan 31

Input to Ontario 2021 Budget Consultation

By Transport Action Ontario | Highways and Bridges , Intercity Rail and Bus , Latest News , Northern Ontario , Southwestern Ontario , Urban Transit

Transport Action Ontario was invited to provide a short verbal presentation on recommendations for the 2021 Ontario Budget to Finance Minister Peter Bethlenfalvy on January 29. We also submitted the same remarks plus supplemental information to the Ministry of Finance.

We proposed a list of 9 items. These are described in the supplemental material, and can be boiled down into 4 overarching themes:

  • Fulfill promises on intercity public transport
  • Continue to invest wisely in GTHA transit
  • Cancel the GTA West expressway (Highway 413)
  • Support Short Line Railways

Our submission can be viewed here:

Oct 25

Transport Action Ontario AGM and Public Presentation – October 24, 2020 – UPDATED

By Transport Action Ontario | Events , Highways and Bridges , Intercity Rail and Bus , Latest News , Northern Ontario , Southwestern Ontario , Urban Transit

Updated: a video recording of the entire meeting is now available:

View on our Youtube Channel

Transport Action Ontario’s (TAO) annual general meeting, postponed from its usual spring date due to the pandemic, will be held on Saturday, October 24, 2020, starting at 1:00 pm Eastern.  As is our usual practice, we will also have a presentation open to the public. Both events will be virtual, and free to join from your computer or phone. Here are the details:

Public Presentation (1:00 pm)

We are pleased to announce that our guest lecturer will be Stephen Wickens, transit researcher and journalist with a four-decade career at four Toronto-based daily newspapers. Steve will summarize his recent report for the Residential and Civil Construction Alliance of Ontario (RCCAO) entitled “Station to Station: Why Subway-building Costs have Soared in the Toronto Region”. This thoughtful report has been well received and hopefully will inform government decisions about at-grade versus below-grade rapid transit projects.

Annual General Meeting (2:00pm)

The AGM will review 2019-2020 performance by the organization and elect the executive and board of directors for the upcoming year. TAO members in good standing will receive an electronic invite and can vote at the virtual meeting, or give a proxy to another member.  Send proxy information to

TAO is always looking for new members to join our board of directors. If you have a passion for public transportation and want to make a difference, contact us at

Aug 20

New Report – Is Building Highway 413 the Best Option for Moving People and Goods?

By Transport Action Ontario | Highways and Bridges , Latest News , Major Reports


For immediate release: Thursday August 20, 2020

A new report – Is Building Highway 413 the Best Option for Moving People & Goods in the GTA-West Region? – shows the proposed GTA-West Highway is a poor use of funds and suggests alternatives to meet the region’s transportation needs

Toronto, Ont. – A  report released today by Environmental Defence, Sustainable Vaughan and Transport Action Ontario, challenges the wisdom of the proposed GTA-West Highway, which would run from the Highway 401/Highway 407 interchange near Milton, to Highway 400 near Kleinburg. This highway proposal, also known as Highway 413, was cancelled in 2018, but then resurrected by the current government. The report argues that the highway will harm the environment and damage communities, while offering little benefit for commuters, making it a poor use of $6 billion tax dollars. 

“We don’t need another highway. Highway 413 was cancelled because the public didn’t want it, and because experts determined that the social, environmental and economic costs of the highway outweighed the meagre benefits that this project could deliver,” said Keith Brooks, Programs Director with Environmental Defence. “Highway 413 is still a bad project, and a waste of tax dollars that would be better spent on public transit. Moreover, with more people expected to work from home in the future, a mega-highway is the wrong fit for the region’s transportation needs.”  

The adverse environmental impacts of a new transportation corridor of this size are significant, and include impacts to rivers, wetlands and forests, the loss of thousands of hectares of prime agricultural lands including about 1000 hectares in the Greenbelt, damage to waterways from road salt, air pollution affecting nearby residents and increased greenhouse gas emissions. 

In addition, there is no evidence to support the idea that highway expansions solve traffic congestion due to what’s known as induced demand. Research has shown that construction of new highway capacity is met soon thereafter with an exactly proportional increase in traffic, due to changes in driving behaviour. Little is accomplished for traffic relief. 

“Highway 413 is a bad investment for the citizens of Ontario. It would damage the environment, consume land for low-value uses, promote urban sprawl, not solve traffic congestion and move Ontario away from its climate change goals,” said Peter Miasek, President of Transport Action Ontario. “The transportation alternatives suggested in this report, together with innovative land use ideas like Brampton’s urban boulevard concept, are a much better investment of money.”

The report shows that investments in GO Rail, light rail, and bus rapid transit projects in the western GTA could move four times as many people as the highway could, for a comparable cost. The report also discusses the alternatives proposed by the expert panel struck by the previous government, which argued that extending and expanding existing highways, congestion pricing, and giving trucks priority on Highway 407ETR would accomplish the goals of Highway 413 at a much reduced cost. 

The province of Ontario has announced a plan to fast track the environmental assessment for the highway, and recently announced the preferred route. The consultation period for the expedited environmental assessment closes on August 22nd. Meanwhile, the City of Brampton recently voted in favour of a walkable, bike-friendly, higher density, boulevard concept in place of Highway 413, reinforcing that the highway is a bad fit for the region. 

“The government has an outdated view of how to boost Ontario’s economy – a new highway, more sprawl, and more pollution isn’t the answer,” adds Keith Brooks. “Transportation is the largest source of carbon emissions in Ontario. In addition, recent modeling estimated that pollution from traffic causes almost 900 premature deaths per year in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA). We don’t need another highway, more cars, and more pollution.”

The report may be viewed below:

Jul 28

Brampton studying Urban Boulevard to replace Highway 413

By Transport Action Ontario | Highways and Bridges , Latest News , Southwestern Ontario

The GTA-West corridor (Highway 413) is a proposed new expressway between Vaughan and Milton. It is currently in the final stages of an Environmental Assessment. Transport Action has been involved with this project since 2009. See our last posting Nov. 12, 2019.

In July, 2020, Brampton Planning and Development Committee unanimously approved a recommendation by city staff to study an urban boulevard in lieu of an expressway in the Heritage Heights area of the City. Transport Action Ontario made a deputation supporting the staff recommendation. It can be viewed below:

Nov 12

Provincial Assessment of GTA West Highway Corridor Continues

By Transport Action Ontario | Highways and Bridges , Latest News

In 2018, the new Ontario government announced it was reviving the Environmental Assessment (EA)  for the GTA West (Highway 413) corridor, proposed to run north of Highway 407 from Vaughan to Milton.  The EA had been stopped by the Liberal Government based on recommendations from an advisory panel in 2017.   Transport Action Ontario participated in the previous EA, emphasizing that existing infrastructure (rail, provincial highways, regional roads) should be expanded to full capacity first.

The 2017 advisory panel report has now been removed from the MTO website, but remains available through the Internet Archive:

The report was extremely thoughtful and comprehensive.  It concluded:

  • Future travel demand is very much more uncertain than when the EA was initiated 10 years ago.  This includes uncertainties in transportation technology (e.g. automated vehicles, shared mobility), economic changes (e-commerce, different manufacturing centres, bigger service economy) and policy changes (climate change mitigation, protection of valuable land, complete communities).  A broad range of scenarios should be modeled.
  • Four specific promising alternatives were modelled and should be considered before committing to a new highway:
    • Consider and prioritize planned and constructed extension and expansion of existing highways
    • Consider congestion pricing (offers much larger travel time saving than GTAW highway)
    • Consider providing truck priority on Highway 407
    • Consider slower growth and more compact land use patterns than assumed in EA, consistent with recent actual growth
  • Framework used in the EA was flawed, resulting in a failure to demonstrate that a new corridor was the only reasonable alternative
  • A preferred planning approach would be to develop a single unified transportation plan for the entire Greater Golden Horseshoe that would align with provincial policies and explicitly consider uncertainty

Despite this recommendation, the previous EA has been revived “as is” and is proceeding with detailed route evaluation.  Public information sessions were held in October.  There is mixed public reaction to the project, with concerns about induced vehicular demand and loss of valuable farm land being paramount.  TAO will consult with other non-government environmental organizations as to next steps.