TORONTO, Ont. — Transportation Minister Harinder Takhar has announced an injection of $1.4 billion into highway improvements this summer, though he acknowledges the money will do little to relieve current congestion.
“We need to have a long-term plan…. I mean, nothing is going to make a difference over a one-year time frame,” he told a news conference at an Oakville construction site.
Over the next 25 years, he said, there will be two million more vehicles in Ontario.
Progressive Conservative Leader John Tory said when it comes to major improvements, “there are still no shovels in the ground.”
“It’s mostly flim-flam and public-relations spinning, and nothing really gets done and people spend as much time commuting as they ever did,” he said.
Of the $1.4 billion, $314 million will be spent on improvements in Greater Toronto.
Takhar said $1.4 billion, an increase of 14% over last year, will cover the cost of 58 km of new highway, repairing 1,248 km of highways and 120 bridges, and pave the way for 10 km of high-occupancy lanes on Highways 403 and 404 and the Queen Elizabeth Way, reserving them for drivers who carpool and transit users.
Rob Bradford, executive director of the Ontario Road Builders’ Association, said provincial governments over the past 30 years should have focused on relieving congestion.
He said there is a “huge, huge infrastructure deficit that has been building … and we are just starting to tap into it now.”
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