Harris announces Niagara ‘superhighway’

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GRIMSBY, Ont. — By as early as 2011, the Ontario government says a new, 130-kilometre “superhighway” through the Niagara Peninsula may already be easing the flow of traffic and cross-border goods.

Ontario Premier Mike Harris said yesterday the move will go along way towards reducing road congestion in Southern Ontario. The new highway, which will cost an estimated $1.2-billion, will run from the north side of Hamilton to Fort Erie, at the southern tip of the peninsula. The project has already gotten the go-ahead for an environmental assessment.

“The new highway will reduce gridlock, ensuring that businesses remain competitive and that people have more free time and a better quality of life,” he says. However, the findings may already be know, as a recently completed transportation study recommended the new highway rather than adding lanes to the QEW because of concerns about paving over high-quality farmland.

The new highway will open in 2011 at the earliest and will be built through lands south of the busy Queen Elizabeth Way, which runs along the shore of Lake Ontario through prime fruit-growing lands.

Mr. Harris has hinted in the past that the new highway, which has been planned for several years, will be a toll road, but he said yesterday that question has yet to be decided.

Brad Clark, the Minister of Transportation, said it was not considered viable to expand rail links to help handle the growing volume of goods shipped through the region between Canada and the United States.

“The reality is that even where there is rail available, a lot of industries simply choose just-in-time delivery by trucks versus rail,” says the minister. “It’s faster.”

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