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the_yellow_dart

Highway 401 (Ontario)

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Old article, but still interesting...

Gridlocked

GTA ECONOMY DINGED BY EVERY CRASH ON THE 401 - NORTH AMERICA'S BUSIEST FREEWAY

By BRIAN GRAY, TORONTO SUN

Ready ... set ... GO?

Waiting the hardest part

No Easy Way Out

THE "PHENOMENAL" number of vehicles on Hwy. 401 as it cuts through Toronto makes it the busiest freeway in North America -- and each collision can cost Ontario's economy thousands of dollars. Traffic on the 401 has doubled in the past 25 years and now averages 410,000 cars an hour, said Phil Masters, the head of the province's advance traffic management centre, commonly known as the Compass system that monitors traffic throughout the GTA.

"Hwy. 401 is definitely the most heavily travelled freeway in North America, probably the most heavily travelled freeway in the world," Masters said. "We're up close to 500,000 on peak days, which is just a phenomenal number."

That staggering figure compares with 380,000 on Los Angeles' famed freeways and 350,000 on the I-75 in Atlanta.

The huge volume has also changed the job of the officers who police it, said Sgt. Cam Woolley of the Ontario Provincial Police, which investigates 15,000 collisions a year on the 401 in the Toronto area.

"Collisions have gone from being merely inconvenient to a severe danger for police, drivers and the factories that now rely on the goods being shipped on the road," Woolley said.

He said a four-hour closure of three or more lanes can hamper businesses waiting for inventory to be delivered.

Lanes used to be shut down for eight to 14 hours while investigators did their job. Now, with heavier tow trucks, damaged cars and trucks can be removed and lanes re-opened quicker. A complete towing cleanup can cost as much as $30,000, Woolley said.

"Hundreds have been injured and many killed over the years in secondary collisions," he said.

Overhead message boards, introduced in 1991, have cut down on secondary collisions by at least 12%, Masters said.

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That staggering figure compares with 380,000 on Los Angeles' famed freeways and 350,000 on the I-75 in Atlanta.

Wow, never realized it was THE busiest. I love trivia.

The I-75 thing could have been significantly alleviated. It goes from the center of Atlanta and clips the ring road at about 11 on the clock. Now, I-85 goes from the center of Atlanta and clips the ring road at about 1 o'clock, more or less. It's not as busy. Why?

The county it goes through voted in rapid transit/rail...or, MARTA to the locals. The county that I-75 goes into DOESN'T want rail because they fear it might bring in the "wrong element." :o Oh, please... That's why it's like slitting your wrists if you choose to live in the NW suburbs of ATL and work in the downtown area.

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There are points to brag about, but having the busiest highway in North America is not one of them, especially when Toronto ranks as the 7th largest urban area! The trouble is with the way the city was laid out. City planners early in the last century never planned for wide enough streets for future traffic, then as buildings were knocked down and modernized in the '30s and '40s (when it was clear the auto was going to dominate), roads still were not widened. Consequently, virtually all of the downtown and mid-town arterial routes are only two lanes in each direction. Worse, they are choked with parked cars and this city's foolish promotion of "street cars."

I have travelled in many other "young" cities and they were smart enough to plan for 6 and 8 lane arterial roads. The 401 ends up being the only choice for east-west travel, unless you count the equally deficient Gardiner Expressway, which the city is currently planning on strangling until it literally falls down.

The tree-hugging-broccoli-eating-save-the-whale types are proud of having killed any highway construction after the late '60s, but the crushing traffic and 16 hour grid-lock on many thoroughfares has been the result.

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The 401 is a good highway, having been to NY, LA and Boston metro areas in the last two years, traffic in Toronto is pretty good compared to them.

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The 401 is a good highway, having been to NY, LA and Boston metro areas in the last two years, traffic in Toronto is pretty good compared to them.

Anything is good compared to Boston's Big Dig. It could have ended up MUCH better if there wasn't so much shoddy construction. Leaky and collapsing tunnels? No thanks.

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Highway in question..

Posted Image

Very trippy. I've never understood how the inside part works versus the collector lanes and when you can switch over. In the "colonies," we generally have acccess to all the lanes. :lol: Incidentally, it's the McDonald Cartier Expressway or something like that.

The other part of Toronto that jumps out is how, in the middle of Mississauga's or Woodbridge's residential areas, you have a RESIDENTIAL high rise popping up, whereas in the cities out West I am familiar with, they tend to be clustered. I remember how this jumps out at me whenever I land at YYZ and I'm checking things out from the plane window.

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I've never understood how the inside part works versus the collector lanes and when you can switch over.

Let me explain.

Posted Image

The inside lanes are the "express" and the outside lanes are the "collectors".

Generally, you can only get on or off the highway via the collectors.

The express will go for 5-6 km at a time with no exits or entrances. The idea is that with nobody merging, less people change lanes, and the highway flows better. See how Avenue, Bathurst and Keele are all clumped on one sign, all 6km away? That's the next transfer to the collectors, which is the last chance for you to catch those three exits. If you find any of this confusing, you can always just stay in the collectors, and you'll never miss an exit.

There are some rare exceptions where there are exits directly from express as well, generally these are only to other freeways.

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Bob, you must've used a special "daylight" lens and taken the shot at 4 a.m.! :lol:

I went to pick my other half up at Sheppard/Jane a couple of Sundays ago and the eastbound lanes were completely stopped. On a Sunday! Was I ever glad I was going westbound!

The point missed by those who do not live here is that Toronto is ONLY 2.5 million. Even if we include the GTA, which would encompass the commute zone of, say, Burlington to Oshawa, we are barely up to 5 million.

The trouble is our loud-mouth politicians DO compare Toronto to New York or L.A., which is a total joke, considering both of those cities are triple the size and then some.

This city's infrastructure is old, out-dated and horribly under-funded. Most of the other highways were built 50+ years ago and have not been expanded, thanks to the tree-huggers. What blows me away is that by the Toyota Star's own figures, 76% of the people in this city DRIVE to work, while only 16% take transit, yet the city blew a billion dollars on the Sheppard subway line (5 stops that go nowhere and is running at 50% capacity) and won't even discuss widening the DVP (built in 1957) because - get ready for this, too many people will use it! <_<

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Bob, you must've used a special "daylight" lens and taken the shot at 4 a.m.! :lol:

I went to pick my other half up at Sheppard/Jane a couple of Sundays ago and the eastbound lanes were completely stopped. On a Sunday! Was I ever glad I was going westbound!

The point missed by those who do not live here is that Toronto is ONLY 2.5 million. Even if we include the GTA, which would encompass the commute zone of, say, Burlington to Oshawa, we are barely up to 5 million.

The trouble is our loud-mouth politicians DO compare Toronto to New York or L.A., which is a total joke, considering both of those cities are triple the size and then some.

This city's infrastructure is old, out-dated and horribly under-funded. Most of the other highways were built 50+ years ago and have not been expanded, thanks to the tree-huggers. What blows me away is that by the Toyota Star's own figures, 76% of the people in this city DRIVE to work, while only 16% take transit, yet the city blew a billion dollars on the Sheppard subway line (5 stops that go nowhere and is running at 50% capacity) and won't even discuss widening the DVP (built in 1957) because - get ready for this, too many people will use it! <_<

That's exactly the problem. We need to get more people using transit.

I only use my car on weekends now.

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That's exactly the problem. We need to get more people using transit.

I only use my car on weekends now.

I don't think people want to use transit over their cars. People nowadays, myself included, want things pronto and they want the freedom that comes with having their own car. Who the hell wants to stand around for 5 or 10 minutes waiting for a bus? When I hear politicians saying they won't build new highways because they will only fill up then I think okay then stop building more houses etc in the suburbs. Its a lose- lose situation. At least in Toronto you actually have decent highways. You should see the cow paths we drive on in Montreal.

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I don't think people want to use transit over their cars. People nowadays, myself included, want things pronto and they want the freedom that comes with having their own car. Who the hell wants to stand around for 5 or 10 minutes waiting for a bus? When I hear politicians saying they won't build new highways because they will only fill up then I think okay then stop building more houses etc in the suburbs. Its a lose- lose situation. At least in Toronto you actually have decent highways. You should see the cow paths we drive on in Montreal.

In my case, public transit is faster. I have about a 6km commute to work. It takes me 10 minutes to walk to the subway, and 15 minutes to ride it work. It would take longer than 25 minutes to drive there, because it's inner city and the traffic's bad. So - it is the faster way sometimes.

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The tree huggers keep the agenda on "commuters" as though that is a 4-letter word, but the DVP northbound is grid-locked most of the day, all day. I have sat on it during a Sunday afternoon, crawling. I have come back from my sister's house in Pickering on Christmas day and crawled from the 401 south to Lawrence.

The city likes to keep the agenda on transit, but the truth is the DVP is the only way out of the center core of the city to go north or east. Don't believe me? Yonge St. and Avenue Rd. are the only two to go north from the core that connect with the 401 - yet they are only 2 lanes in each direction. Jarvis is great downtown (except the St. Lawrence Market area), but then meanders through residential neighborhoods, shopping districts - then ends at Lawrence Ave. anyway! Forget Bayview: it bottlenecks at the Bayview shopping area, south of Eglinton and then basically ends south or River St. Leslie? Ah, sorry, it doesn't connect between Eglinton and Danforth, then ends around Gerrard again, then picks up to the lake.

The Scarborough Expressway and Allen Expressway were to have alleviated the pressures on all the so-called arterial roads, but they were never built and the result is perpetual gridlock from about 7 a.m to 9 pm on the DVP and Gardiner. The 401 which at least has 16 lanes in some places, does occasionally move.

Why is it that a person ceases to be a human in the eyes of city politicans, once they get behind the wheel and become a "motorist?" We pay $6 billion in gas taxes, which go into general revenue, while hardly any of the money is put into either roads or transit.

But there is always money for the homeless and pet projects.

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The tree huggers keep the agenda on "commuters" as though that is a 4-letter word, but the DVP northbound is grid-locked most of the day, all day. I have sat on it during a Sunday afternoon, crawling. I have come back from my sister's house in Pickering on Christmas day and crawled from the 401 south to Lawrence.

The city likes to keep the agenda on transit, but the truth is the DVP is the only way out of the center core of the city to go north or east. Don't believe me? Yonge St. and Avenue Rd. are the only two to go north from the core that connect with the 401 - yet they are only 2 lanes in each direction. Jarvis is great downtown (except the St. Lawrence Market area), but then meanders through residential neighborhoods, shopping districts - then ends at Lawrence Ave. anyway! Forget Bayview: it bottlenecks at the Bayview shopping area, south of Eglinton and then basically ends south or River St. Leslie? Ah, sorry, it doesn't connect between Eglinton and Danforth, then ends around Gerrard again, then picks up to the lake.

The Scarborough Expressway and Allen Expressway were to have alleviated the pressures on all the so-called arterial roads, but they were never built and the result is perpetual gridlock from about 7 a.m to 9 pm on the DVP and Gardiner. The 401 which at least has 16 lanes in some places, does occasionally move.

Why is it that a person ceases to be a human in the eyes of city politicans, once they get behind the wheel and become a "motorist?" We pay $6 billion in gas taxes, which go into general revenue, while hardly any of the money is put into either roads or transit.

But there is always money for the homeless and pet projects.

The traffic is actually not that bad... I used to commute from downtown to Pickering every day. Took about 35 minutes. For a 40 km drive, that's not bad at all.

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In regards to terrible traffic:

I've driven on the Cross Bronx Expressway / George Washington Bridge at various times of the day. One of the only times I was able to drive it without slowing down was at about 3 AM. My default expectation on the CBE is dead-stop traffic.

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I think it is MORE logical to have the collector/express lanes blocked off.

Plus on a road like that, if I was a cop I'd ticket every jackass who cut

someone off or was traveling in a lane other than the fast lane without

yielding to faster traffic. Morons who drive 65mph in the fast lane &

REFUSE to move the hell over when you're doing 79mph drive me crazy.

They also induce road rage, cause pileups and other such mess.

People in the USA seldom understand the term "PASSING LANE" <_<

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I use it quite frequently to PASS people, so what if I ride in it for 15-20 miles, the point is I'm still passing people. Of course, I'm doing 75-80 in a 70mph zone. Normally I do about 5 over the speed limit everywhere I go. As far as I can tell, it looks like the whole road idea up there needs to be revamped, or like GMRULES again said, stop building up the suburbs and move more people into the city.

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There have been and continue to be road improvement projects in the greater toronto area in recent years, just not much of it in the city of Toronto itself since the population and job growth is almost nil there as compared to the suburbs.

Edited by frogger
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And while it makes sense to build where the growth is, you still have to think of where that growth is going to travel to in order to do its business.

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I am surrounded on 3 sides by condo projects going up: a 43 storey tower, a 14 storey tower with a 33 storey tower behind it, and a 14 storey tower going up a block away. Within a 5 block radius of Yonge/Bloor there are 8 towers going up that are in excess of 40 floors, including an 80 storey tower just proposed for the corner. I try to navigate this maze nearly every day (my gym is in the 51 storey Manulife Tower that was pretty lonely when it was built 35 years ago).

None of these streets can handle the traffic now on a good day, let alone with the constant lane closure and street excavations.

I went to a GM meeting in Markham on Wednesday and it took me 55 minutes from downtown (Jarvis/Wellesley) to Kennedy, just south of the 407. 55 minutes. That used to take 30 minutes. The city has been so successful with "in filling" the downtown core that the DVP and Gardiner are stopped in both directions most of the day.

I realize that other cities have worse traffic. I have driven in both New York and Chicago more than once, but it is outrageous to compare Toronto with either of those cities, but that is the point: whenever someone dares to complain about lack of infrastructure in this city, we get compared to London and New York. I just want to cry. World-class? Who are they kidding?

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Jarvis/Wellesley

This is the closest major intersection to me too. Do you live right nearby?

I live on Homewood Av.

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HOney, we are probably neighbors!

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...hell, maybe I am one of those trannie hookers you eye every night on your way home! :P:lol:

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