Province pulling out all the stops. Literally.

CORNWALL, Ont. — Don’t hold your breath — or anything else for that matter — waiting for the rest stops along Ontario’s 400-series highways to be operating at full capacity any time soon.

The Ontario Ministry of Transportation (MTO) is in the middle of retrofitting all of the 23 service centers that it owns, mostly along the 401 between Windsor and Cornwall and on Highway 400 north from Toronto to Barrie.

The Ministry leases the properties to operate the stores and other facilities, but the leases have been expiring and it’s been two years since they’ve been searching for a new operator.

And while the Ministry says "it’s almost ready to select a winner," there’s no predicting a back-in-business-as-usual date.

The result has been clear to anyone who’s driven along any part of those highways recently. Some of the truckstops are completely closed; some you can only get fuel and a bathroom break; and some others are still operating normally.

The goal is to have full-service, around-the-clock operations at all the truckstops, as soon as possible, according to MTO spokesman Bob Nichols.

But a construction schedule will only be announced once a winning bid has been accepted.

(One report stated that the international concession giant HMS Host had won the competition and indeed that company’s website states it operates 10 of the truckstops on the province’s list. But when contacted the company and the Ministry, they both denied HMS had a leg up in the process.)

When the project was first announced in 2007, then infrastructure minister David Caplan promised "world-class services to the public."

But soil remediation, site preparation and the bidding process have led to longer than expected delays.

While you’re waiting — hopefully not with your back-teeth floating — the MTO is erecting signs along the routes directing drivers to other nearby 24-hour service centers.


Bainsville, Morrisburg, Tilbury South, Tilbury North, West Lorne, Trenton North, Dutton, Trenton, Mallorytown North, Mallorytown South, Ingleside, Woodstock, Port Hope, Odessa, Napanee, Barrie, Cookstown King City, Cambridge North, Cambridge South, Newcastle, Ingersoll, and Maple.

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