Ontario paves way for more HOV lanes on 400 series hwys

Greater Toronto’s 400-series highways are getting more vehicle lane capacity, the Ontario government announced — except most truck drivers won’t be allowed on them.

Faced with a “commuter logjam” that could see up to two million more vehicles on Toronto-area highways in the next 25 years, the Ontario government will expand the number of high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes on the province’s 400-series highways to encourage car pooling and transit use.

The HOV lanes are restricted to vehicles carrying at least two occupants. Motorists without passengers who are caught using the lanes face fines of $110 and three demerit points.

Transportation Minister Donna Cansfield said the northbound high-occupancy lane on Hwy 404, north of Highway 401, will open this summer, and more are in the works.

Construction to add HOV lanes on the Queen Elizabeth Way between Oakville and Burlington is also underway.

The province may extend HOV lanes on highways 400 and 404 over the next decade. HOV lanes may also be added to parts of Highway 427 and other 400-series highways — meaning nearly every 400-series highway in southern Ontario’s greater Golden Horseshoe area could have a high-occupancy lane by 2031, Cansfield said.

The government plans to add HOV lanes instead of converting existing lanes, she said.

It costs between $1.1 million and $2 million per kilometre for each new stretch of HOV lane, so with roughly 450 km of new lanes planned in the greater Golden Horseshoe area, the project’s cost is pegged at around $1 billion, which also includes money for carpool lots.

Now if they can just find some cash for trucker rest areas in northern Ontario…

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