No small bump in the road

MISSISSAUGA, Ont. — To some, it may just be another bump in the road. But to one Mississauga businessman, the Credit River ‘dip’ on Hwy. 401 is a costly mistake that will become even more costly once the province widens the highway there in the coming years.

Current plans are to expand Hwy. 401 to 12 lanes across the Credit River floodplain following the current contour of the road, which dips as much as 70 feet, causing traffic congestion and increasing emissions.

The Ministry of Transportation’s policy is to follow the lay of the land when a grade of 3% or less is present, however Ernie Lynch, president of Lynch Group of Companies, is pushing hard to have the province reconsider. The Lynch Group, based on Argentia Road in Mississauga, Ont., manufactures hydraulic controls and systems for customers around the world, the largest being NASA. Its president and founder is frustrated by what he considers the needless waste of fuel, consumed mostly by trucks as they gear down to climb out of the dip and get stuck in the stop-and-go traffic bottleneck that exists there.

A view from the Creditview crossing over the 401. A Mississauga businessman would like to see the stretch leveled off before it's widened.
A view from the Creditview crossing over the 401. A Mississauga businessman would like to see the stretch leveled off before it’s widened.

Citing data from a 2005 study entitled Environmental and Energy Impacts of Roadway Grades, Lynch pointed out a high-emitter vehicle (such as a commercial truck) consumes 0.0802 litres of diesel per kilometre on a flat surface and 0.1552 litres per kilometre on a grade of 6% in a “stop sign environment,” which is what is often encountered on the Credit River Dip stretch of the 401. Carbon emissions from these same vehicles increase from 157.7 grams per kilometre to 306.41 grams per kilometre when a 3% grade is present. Even a 1% grade sees carbon emissions climb noticeably to 181.2 g/km.

It’s this environmental impact that has prompted Lynch to push for a change to the design plans. Lynch is a bona-fide environmentalist whose company does more than pay lip service to its environmental philosophies. Lynch’s own home is largely solar-powered, and generates surplus electricity that he sells to the city. He is planning to install solar panels at the company’s Mississauga manufacturing plant and will offer charging stations for employees who drive electric-powered vehicles.

Lynch Group funded the conversion of one employee’s Toyota Prius to a full plug-in vehicle that now gets 180 mpg. It organically grows vegetables on-site and is seeking permission to build a greenhouse there. Sometimes, Lynch prepares lunch for employees using these same homegrown organic vegetables. And he even pays employees to move closer to the office to decrease their commuting time.

“We will continue to provide subsidies to employees for buying hybrid and electric vehicles and will supply them with charging systems and so on,” Lynch told Truck News in a recent interview at Lynch Group headquarters. “We also have a subsidy if someone moves closer to the company and cuts their commute – say, from an hour to 20 minutes or five minutes – we’re going to help them out financially because it’s less strain on the environment.”

Frustrated at regularly seeing the bottleneck effect caused by the Credit River dip, Lynch has made it a personal mission to change how the road is expanded. He would like to see a 2.5-km viaduct constructed, which would level off the road surface, similar to what exists further east where the 401 crosses over Yonge St.

Screen Shot 2014-08-26 at 9.18.42 AM
A viaduct similar to this one at Hwy. 401 and Yonge St. would allow traffic to flow more smoothly over the Credit River, reducing emissions, Ernie Lynch contends.

“We do a certain amount of social corporate responsibility inside the company, but this is an effort I saw that needed some attention on the outside,” he said. “It’s a personal endeavour.”

Lynch has invited MTO engineers into his office to hear his ideas, but says his suggestions were dismissed, due to MTO’s roadbuilding policies, which involve following the existing roadway where a grade of 3% or less exists. (This stretch is right around the 3% threshold, Lynch estimated). Undeterred, he took his message to the Peel Goods Movement Task Force, which was more receptive to the concept and later indicated it would pursue the issue with the MTO when it meets with them in October.

But Lynch would like to see the trucking industry, arguably the greatest stakeholders in the future of the road design, get on-board as well.

“I’d like to get the trucking industry in general interested in this, because they’re the hardest hit,” Lynch said.

He is reaching out to local shippers and trucking companies in hopes of garnering their support. With construction set to get underway next year, Lynch realizes there’s not much time to effect change, but he’s still optimistic.

“If enough people speak up and there’s a fuss raised over this, anything can be changed,” Lynch contended. “They’ve changed the subway plan in Toronto I don’t know how many times, and it has always been a ‘done deal.’ But it’s not done until the shovels are in the ground.”

However, one professional driver who regularly travels this section of Hwy. 401, told Truck News alleviating congestion there may not be as simple as leveling the roadway.

“I spend plenty of time in this area so I know the grade,” said professional driver Angelo Diplacido. “I have had to gear down for that hill coming up on Mavis Rd., but the loss of speed is not so much because of the grade itself as it is that from Mississauga Rd. to Mavis, we are entering a zone of activity. Mavis Rd. is a popular exit for commuters, so there’s also a jockeying for pole position going on. The trucks get on at the business junction (at Mississauga Rd.) and some trucks grab the centre lane immediately in an effort to avoid the exiting traffic at Mavis Rd. Some commuters take the left lane at Mississauga Rd. to get around the trucks that just got on, only to jockey themselves back to the right for Mavis Rd. It’s the old game of ‘Beat the Truck’ to the exit that really causes the initial slowdown, but the grade is an insignificant feature in the road’s design. Some signage to alert motorists of the Mavis exit might help.”

Diplacido believes the above-mentioned traffic issues will remain, even if the roadway is leveled out. He noted it’s similar to the Hwy. 401 eastbound exit to Hwy. 404/DVP, but interestingly, a significant grade exists there as well.

A simulation can be done to test these theories, and Lynch said he knows just the people at he University of Toronto who can conduct it and provide a quick turnaround. However, he’d first like to get more companies on-board to either share the cost or just show their support of the need for further investigation. He’s disappointed the province itself hasn’t investigated the feasibility of constructing a viaduct across the Credit River in more detail. He is also calling for an Economic Impact Assessment to be conducted, which would examine the long-term costs and environmental impact of maintaining the current road profile.

The Ontario Trucking Association (OTA) hasn’t gotten involved, since the issue hasn’t yet been brought forward by its members. But Lynch has taken note of the larger trucking companies that regularly pass through the area – SLH and Thomson Terminals, to name a couple – and he’s hoping they can measure the time their trucks spend tied up in traffic between Mississauga and Mavis Roads. If so, he’s hopeful they’ll lend their support to the cause.

arnprior bridge
Lynch points to this redesigned roadway near Arnprior as an example where a viaduct was successfully constructed to improve traffic flow and reduce pollution.

“I’m sure some of the (carriers) are pretty savvy and can see how much time a driver is spending on the road and how much fuel they are consuming and can see it takes more to get through there than it should,” he said.

Lynch said he will continue to search for allies to help push for changes to the current design plans. You can view the presentation Lynch made to the Peel Goods Movement Task Force here.


Four more ideas to improve Hwy. 401 traffic flow

In addition to pushing for a viaduct to be built across the Credit River floodplain, Mississauga businessman Ernie Lynch has some other suggestions he says would ease traffic congestion alon Hwy. 401 through Toronto.

No separation of Express and Collector lanes: “Collector lanes become saturated during rush hour and the express lanes become traps whenever an accident occurs,” Lynch said. “Why not have them all open? If something drastic happens, at least there’s some place for traffic to go.”

Enforce lane usage and limit trucks to the right-hand lane: Knowing this suggestion won’t sit well with commercial drivers, Lynch pointed out traffic is rarely travelling faster than 30-40 km/h anyways, so why is there a need for trucks to travel in the faster lanes? He suggested enforcing rules that would allow faster traffic to travel in the left-hand lane while trucks and other slower-moving vehicles would keep to the right.

Build tiered roads: In places where the 401 can’t be widened, Lynch suggested building tiered roads to add capacity. For instance between Eglinton and Islington, where there’s no room to widen the road, he said collector lanes could be built over top the express and then rejoin later at the same elevation.

Highway reversals: Hannover, Germany, which hosts many major trade shows, including trucking’s IAA, employs full highway reversal each day when shows are opening or closing, so that more lanes can be allocated to the direction in which most vehicles are travelling. This would be especially effective for Hwy. 400 northbound on Friday afternoons, Lynch noted.



Avatar photo

James Menzies is editor of Today's Trucking. He has been covering the Canadian trucking industry for more than 20 years and holds a CDL. Reach him at or follow him on Twitter at @JamesMenzies.

Have your say

This is a moderated forum. Comments will no longer be published unless they are accompanied by a first and last name and a verifiable email address. (Today's Trucking will not publish or share the email address.) Profane language and content deemed to be libelous, racist, or threatening in nature will not be published under any circumstances.


  • It’s interesting that there’s so much kafuffle over such a small dip as this when there’s a much greater bottle neck involving much more of a gradient regarding trucks and cars and emissions such as the eastward climb near the DVP in which trucks (which obviously have the power (500HP+), it’s just that these new and improved commercial engines are castrated so much in the interest of fuel economy not to mention the increased payloads that we might as well go back to the dark ages of small engines and wide open throttles (same thing really)) that no one seem really concerned about which causes more of a back up that this miniscule dip does in comparison?

    • Hello R Elliot,
      I am a member of the Lynch family, and I am behind my father’s idea to have this section of the 401 altered because I too commute through this section each day and see the inefficiencies that both truckers and commuters must deal with. The reason this area is of prime concern (and not the 401/DVP section) is because this is the next section of the 401 that MTO planning to have widened (410 to Mavis having been completed). I agree that the 401/DVP section is equally, if not worse, than the Credit River valley, but to point to the 401/DVP section and ask the MTO to level it would likely be met with strong refusal, but ground has not been broken here in Mississauga; hence the proposal of the idea.

      • The 401/DVP junction, be it eastbound or westbound, moves and maintains flow with little effort.. Long sweeping ramps that only merge onto another multilane thoroughfare accommodate the transition. A slight hiccup when someone decides that a courteous -Zipper merge- is not for them, but vastly different than Mississauga to Huntario.

    • Hi R Elliot
      We have been successful in getting a full Economic Impact Assessment agreed to which will provide accurate values as to the cost to the transporation industry as well as manufacturing and many other stakeholders. One must remember that this infrastructure will be in place fro 50+ years without opportunity to change. The hidden cost of ownership to the oversight will increase steadily year after year.
      Perhaps it will lead to a rethink on the DVP which has cost a fortune in fuel since the day it was built. When the true numbers are available, a retional decision can be made.

  • Great idea but at what cost? Who will pay for a total replacement of the 401 to install a viaduct? Plus add on the impact to traffic for the next few years during the construction phase and the added maintenance of an elevated roadway as we are seeing on the Gardiner. Will the long term benefits outway the costs both in added funding and pollution? This may be too onerous a task to take on with possibly very little to show for it. As Diplacido points out very little, if any, of the traffic is actually due to the grade.

  • Of course pick on the transport s we are big and clumsy slow to get upbto the desired speed or flow it would be better if you were going through for us to be in left lane as I had a 2004 truck that burned little to No emmisons as per MTO .thanks

  • We got to learn to take a stand and stop playing two faced. We have a government who spends big dollars on attending Pollution, emissions, Global warming etc conferences and to top it we have an inefficient Public transportation and forcing more and more people to own a car whether they can afford it or not adding to traffice congestion, pollution, stress and the list can go on.

  • Classic example of environmentalist thinking. Lets spend huge amounts of money just to marginally reduce pollution. I’m sure our liberal government would gladly buy in and take it even further by eliminating ALL grades in Ontario, flatten out all the bridges and hills! It could be the greatest construction project ever, think of all the jobs this would create, all courtesy of our never ending supply of funds courtesy of the Ontario taxpayer. More jobs and so much less pollution….well at least according to Mr. Lynch. No surprise his firm provides components for NASA, another huge tax dollar funded spending mill. Get your head out of the clouds and come back to earth. Want to cut pollution and improve productivity while encouraging compliance with speed limits? Why doesn’t someone start a campaign to synchronize traffic lights in Ontario, so we’re not grinding to a halt and starting in the basement at every intersection. Probably a much less expensive undertaking that would have an exponentially greater payback – environmentally and economically.

    • Hi Cye V
      We will soon be able to back this up with hard figures. If you’d like to give me a call I’d enjoy being able to speak to every point you have tabled above. Trust me, no one is buying into this without proof and it’s being done in a scientific manner. Regarding flattening out all roads and bridges…it’s not feasible, but when designs are being done and the payback is known it will make it easier in future to make intelligent decisions.
      Sir, my head may be in the clouds but I am taking a 30,000 ft view of the whole situation. Give me a call and discuss further.

  • Listen to the drivers people.
    While I agree that traffic here is tough and am impressed with Mr. Lynch’s dedication to the environment (he seems to put his money where his mouth is!) I really don’t think the grade here is the problem. I have traversed this section of road for 40 years in a lot of different kind of equipment and only change gears to deal with traffic conditions. This stretch of road desperately needs more lanes NOW. Don’t hold up the expansion process with more studies and talk.
    Incidently, my biggest complaint here currently is how the eastbound lanes work between Mavis and Hurontario. I am one of the guys who, as I approach Mississauga Rd., head for the center lane and stay there till I am in the express at 410, because it is often so difficult to move from the right lane to center lane after Mississauga Rd. and the right lane forces you into the collectors which are a current disaster here because of the construction at the 427 NB ramps.

  • Assuming the transport trucks to be the high emitters is ignoring the big picture. Per litre in engine size, the same 13 litre engine scaled down to a 1.0 litre turbo diesel engine would be the equivalent of over 90 mpg, but the rest of the motoring public doesn’t drive employ such available technologies. The stigma behind diesels, even blue tech diesels, disallow vehicles like the Toyota Yaris diesel or the Fiat 500 diesel. Theres likely no desire for these type of cars in a horse power culture. Litre per litre, the highest emitters are the lead footed, luxury behemoths have a part in this equation.
    The trucking industry has made monumental leaps in fuel economy in the past 20 years with modern communication networks that eliminate the costly errors between the pay phone stops of a foregone era. The Global positioning systems that get us to destinations, first time rather than stopping to read a map or the consumption of getting lost.
    A 3% grade would never cause a transport truck to lose its legs, but approaching a beehive of activity, such as Mavis road, would. The business parks of Mississauga road, the heavy residential and retail of Mavis rd. and the in
    completes road work further on, has a lot to do with this slow down. Compound this with the distracted world of the modern, aloof driver that sees the slow down as opportunity to catch up on some texting and its not hard to see the future.
    I fail to see how lessening the grade by lengthening the grade to arrive at the same elevation can save fuel since it will always require a measured amount of fuel to do a measured amount of work.
    Viaducts are generally used to link vast expanse like the Don river or railroad yards as in the case of Bathurst street in Toronto. They don’t normally get special dispensation to smooth out grades. The grade at Mavis rd. is not steep enough to compromise the momentum of a transport truck. A peculiar piece of highway as it immediately opens up to 5 lane after Mavis rd. It should be free flowing by this point, but it’s not. A little further west at Dixie rd.- long touted as one of the busiest trucking Hub in North America, it is rarely backed up. The difference is that the 401 at Dixie rd. is about 12-14 lanes with separations for express and collectors. Intentions and maneuvers by motorists are separated efficiently from those exiting and merging, to the non- stop drivers that are going to points beyond.
    In short, Mavis rd. was turned into a massive junction to retail and residential before the volumes were accommodated. Even an extra lane on either side with 2 exit lanes would improve flow exponentially. However, we are still waiting on the next kilometre past Mavis rd.
    The future plans for 12 lanes at this junction would certainly improve flow and fuel consumption for all. Implementing viaducts is also monumental and address a very small portion of the fuel consumed by gridlock.
    Viaducts and tiered highways also come with the greater future cost of maintenance. Montreal, The Hogs Hollow bridge, and The gardener expressway are examples of road sections that remain in constant disruption and vigilance. They are better suited for more temperate climates.

  • As a truck driver, Trucks are now cleaner then ever and next to zero emission, they are equipped with Def fluid. You wanna fix grid lock, the Opp needs to start ticketing ppl that don’t know the difference between passing lanes and the right lane . Like the electronic signs over the highway say. Are highways are like offense in football, find an opening and that’s your passing lane. They also should start ticketing ppl that don’t signal , isn’t that part of the hta. Ticket rubber neckers, ticket ppl that don’t move over for emergency vehicle on the side of the road, like cam Wooley says. The liberal government in 2009 put speed limiters on trucks, for safety ..bunch of b.s..why don’t they put limiters on cars? I think the government should ppl with there license more then 10 yrs be retested. There are ppl that lack the basic skills of driving, like reading signs, being in the right place when it’s your exit, in a hurry to get the next red light. Ppl that drive at night and forget to turn your lights on, time to go play in traffic with a bunch of morons.