With traffic snarls and commute times being some of the top pet peeves among Toronto commuters, one group feels the city needs to dig deeper to solve congestion issues.
The Get Toronto Moving Transportation Committee is proposing a six-lane tunneled highway that they say would help ease a lot of traffic woes. It would run from Highway 401 at Highway 2A in the east, to Highways 400, 427 and 402 in the west and would make Toronto home to the longest underground toll highway in the world.
“It would be 62 kilometers,” says James Alcock, chair of the committee. “What we’re doing is moving a lot of the through traffic underground by building a tunnel under existing railway corridor across the city from end to end.”
Alcock wants to see these underground toll highways built by private companies and operated by the private sector.
“There’s the Ontario teachers pension fund which has over $100 billion available, there are oil companies, there are companies all over the world looking to invest.”
However, the proposed tunnel may be counter-productive to the work the city is already trying to do. Graham Haines, Research Manager with Ryerson City Building Institute says it won’t prove to be the buried treasure the group is hoping.
“A big thing with highways is a thing called induced demand. So basically when we build new road capacity, it fills up pretty quickly because we’ve made driving easier,” he says. “More people will start driving, they’ll move further away. A tunnel highway is no different than adding a lane to the 401, which is what we see happening all the time.”
Nevertheless, Alcock and his team are putting together a formal “pitch” for their underground tunnel project. They hope to have a formal press conference in late January or early February, presenting it as an option for Toronto’s commuter future.