Ontario’s Liberal government released its most recent budget in January 2016. A number of announcements impact drivers including the elimination of the Drive Clean emissions test fee in 2017 and continuing efforts to reduce auto insurance costs.
As part of its job creation provisions, the budget is turning to infrastructure projects, including highways, roads, bridges and public transit, among others, supporting about 110,000 jobs annually.
High-Occupancy Toll Lanes (HOT)
While carpooling motorists continue to use this version of the High-Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes for free, a pilot project that allows single-occupant vehicles to use these lanes for a fee is starting up. Sixteen and one-half kilometres of the QEW will start collecting information for future HOT projects. Likely using recording equipment similar to the 407 toll highway, the trial will take place between Guelph Line in Burlington and Trafalgar Road in Oakville.
A future target for electronic HOT tolling includes Highway 427 south of Highway 409 to north of Rutherford Road, and is expected to open by 2021.
HOV lanes will be added in both directions to Highway 400 between Major Mackenzie Drive and King Road, increasing its width from eight lanes to ten.
Currently six lanes between Highway 401 and Queen Street in Brampton, the 410 will be widened to 10 lanes by 2018. This will include HOV lanes in both directions.
Northern Highways Program
A $550 million investment targets additional passing lanes, bridge replacement or rehabilitation and four-lane expansions of both Highway 69 south of Sudbury and Highway 11/17, east of Thunder Bay.
Continued enhancement of winter highway maintenance standards and awareness is budgeted. Road weather information system stations are on the books for enhancement. More frequent road patrols, improved equipment and increased road service by contractors are planned as well. The “Track My Plow” website program (http://www.trackmyplow.com/ ), providing real-time information on plow status, will also be expanded to provide more thorough information.