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September 15, 2004

$63.6M earmarked for HOV lanes

BY GRANT CAMERON

STAFF WRITER

The province is spending $63.6 million to build new high occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes on highways 403 and 404.

The roads are the first 400-series highways to receive HOV lanes.

Transportation Minister Harinder Takhar said last week that the new lanes will ease congestion and promote transit.

“We are announcing the first ever High Occupancy Vehicle lanes to be built on Ontario’s highways,” said Takhar. “By using HOV lanes, carpoolers could shorten commute times significantly during morning and afternoon rush hour.”

HOV lanes are special-purpose lanes reserved for transit and passenger vehicles carrying two or more people.

The lanes will encourage people to use transit and carpool, reduce travel times for commuters and ease congestion on the 404 and 403.

HOV lanes have been used effectively in other jurisdictions in Canada, the United States and around the world, including British Columbia, Texas, New York, California, Washington, the United Kingdom, Australia and Indonesia.

“About 70 per cent of GTA highways are almost at capacity in the morning and evening rush hours, including the 404 and 403,” Takhar said. “The great thing about HOV lanes is that they increase capacity, and certainly put carpoolers in the fast lane.”

The construction work will involve widening both the 404 and 403 to create the new lanes.

Highway 403 will be widened by one lane in each direction from Highway 407 to Highway 401 to support the introduction of HOV lanes.

A $46-million contract for the work was awarded to Bot Construction Ltd. of Oakville. Construction is now under way and the HOV lanes are expected to be opened to traffic in the fall of 2005.

Other improvements along the 403 include:

• Widening and rehabilitating the Mullet Creek, Credit River, Central Parkway and Matheson Boulevard overpasses;

• Lane and shoulder resurfacing;

• Upgrading the Cawthra Road and Eastgate Parkway intersection;

• Constructing a concrete median barrier along the highway to better guide traffic and enhance safety; and

• Upgrading highway lighting between Central Parkway and Highway 401.

Highway 404 southbound will be widened from four to five lanes from Van Horne Avenue to Beaver Creek to support a new HOV lane.

The Finch Avenue underpass will also be rehabilitated.

A $17.6-million contract for the work was awarded to Dufferin Construction of Oakville. Construction is now under way, with completion expected by fall 2005.

Daryl Novak, project manager for CarpoolTool.com, said the HOV lanes will be a great incentive for people to carpool.

“They help ease traffic congestion and frustration by getting us where we need to go faster.”

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