Truck tolls may come to QEW (February 04, 2003)

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TORONTO, Ont. — If the Province has its way, trucks may one day have to start paying tolls to use the Queen Elizabeth Way (QEW) between Toronto and the border crossings in the Niagara Region.

Provincial Transportation Minister Norm Sterling says if a new highway is built on the Niagara Escarpment, he wants trucks off the QEW.

“We want to get trucks off the QEW as it now stands and get them onto the new mid-peninsula corridor when it’s built,” he told the media yesterday at a news conference about the Mid-Peninsula Transportation Corridor.

“In order to do that we may, in fact, consider things like tolling trucks on the QEW in order to force them…onto this new highway.”

Cars wouldn’t be charged a toll to use the QEW, Sterling said.

The objective of a truck toll, he says, is to lessen the environmental impact of truck exhaust on the lower Niagara Peninsula region.

The proposed new highway would be built from the U.S. border near Buffalo, along the Niagara Escarpment and link up with existing 400-series highways.

But QEW tolls could be as many as 10 years away. The Province is just getting ready to do an environmental assessment of the Mid-Peninsula Transportation Corridor plan.

It’s looking at three proposed routes for a new highway. One would connect the Niagara Peninsula to Hwy. 407 in Burlington. Another would link the Peninsula to Hwy. 401 west of the Niagara Escarpment, and the third proposal is a connection to the QEW and Hwy. 407 by widening Hwy. 403 through Hamilton and Burlington.

The whole idea of a new freeway on the Niagara Escarpment doesn’t sit well with some environmentalists. They don’t want a new highway cutting through the Escarpment because it’s an environmentally sensitive area that’s home to some of the richest fruit-growing land and vineyards in Canada.

And residents in Burlington don’t like the idea of a new superhighway bringing more traffic through their area.

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