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Copper

Toronto's 401: Busiest Freeway in North America

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Pictures below, first some facts from Wikipedia.

The 401 is widely considered to be North America's busiest highway, with an estimated Annual Average Daily Traffic (AADT) of over 425,000 in 2004, near the interchange with Highway 400. Due to its triple use as the main trade, commuting and recreational corridor in Ontario, the AADT rises to well beyond the 500,000 level on some days. The highway has 12-20 lanes through Pickering to Mississauga and this is thought to be the world's longest continuous stretch of highway having 12 or more lanes. The main reason the highway is so large is the fact that Toronto has very few highways so the ones it does have particularly the 401 tend to be quite large, another highway(the 400) is similar in size to the 401 but not for the same distance.

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This is highway 400, similar to the 401

400_cl_29_north.jpg

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I'm surprised that Canada has such shotty roads.

Isn't the 401 also the widest in North America in number of lanes? Like 20 at one point including express, local and exit lanes?

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What do you mean by such shotty roads??? I dont see anything wrong with them. Toronto doesnt represent Canada either, what you see here isnt necassarily what you'll see in Montreal or Vancouver, etc.

And yes the 401 reaches 20 lanes at some points, whether its the widest in NA I dont really know.

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Truly fascinating.......it is soooooooo big.

Is it me or does it look like a highway inside of a freeway? I would be so nervous driving on such a large highway. How would I know which lanes I should be driving in.

Cooper are you from Toronto? Can you explain to me how to drive on such a rode?

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The inside lanes are for express driving i.e. through the city, the outside lanes are collector lanes, generally if you plan on a short trip on and off the highway. Occasionally these lanes hook up and you can switch from express to collector depending on where you want to go. Its really quite an efficient way of doing things, and yes it can be intimidating but follow the signs and you're fine.

You can see in this picture how the outside and the inside lanes hook up so you can switch over.

401_cl_rouge_west.jpg

Couple more pics

The highway is getting alittle beat up here, cold winters, hot summers, and heavy traffic do an absolute number on the thing.

401_cl_384_east.jpg

Yep, its that damn wide.

401_cl_346_east.jpg

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maybe it's an illusion of the pictures, but it seems well planned out, traffic seems to flow. Not so the same in many unfortunate locations.

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This is definately the widest road I've ever seen. Are the middle lanes toll/express lanes? It looks like the original highway had new ones added at the sides, but how does it work? Also with a mammoth highway running through town, does the traffic move quickly or is it clogged like everywhere else? Finally, does it or its interchanges have nicknames, like Spaghetti Bowl, The Stack, The Mousetrap, etc?

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This is definately the widest road I've ever seen. Are the middle lanes toll/express lanes? It looks like the original highway had new ones added at the sides, but how does it work? Also with a mammoth highway running through town, does the traffic move quickly or is it clogged like everywhere else? Finally, does it or its interchanges have nicknames, like Spaghetti Bowl, The Stack, The Mousetrap, etc?

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

The middle lanes are express but not toll, there are numerous ramps so you can switch from the express lanes to the collectors(outer) lanes or vice versa. Is it clogged?? Yes during rush hour it can get very backed up. Dont know any nicknames, the most famous would be "Hoggs Hollow" but its more of a geographic region than a nickname.

Here you can see how you can go from the express to collectors lanes or vice versa.

hwy401-62_lg.jpg

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Also with a mammoth highway running through town, does the traffic move quickly or is it clogged like everywhere else?

During rush hour it can take 45 minutes - an hour to go 15 miles :( It flows no faster (and in many cases slower) at 16 lanes wide than other area freeways do at 6 lanes wide.

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The 401 is an extremely busy road, because it is a main link between Detroit/Windsor, and what is considered the economic heart of Canada. Also the

I-75 connects to the 401 at Detroit.

Add to that the numerous car manufacturing facilities, nd parts facilities that exist along the 401 corridor.

Because of this, the 401 sees A LOT of truck traffic. And I mean A LOT.

The road is a constant construction zone because it has to be constantly repaired from the pounding it gets from trucks, and cars.

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Having driven on there during peak traffic hours, I would definitely believe it to be the busiest in North America.

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It was a pleasure driving in Toronto in the summer of 2004 before, during and after rush hour. Ive found Toronto area motorists were a hell of a lot better than any american city ive ever driven in. They actually know left lane is passing only thus NOT driving the left lane as any other travel lane, good at using their brakes and seemingly the majority of motorists know how to handle their high speeds. Car reliant America should really take some notes at how Canandian driving is a lot better than America (that will never happen!). Id like to know why the majority of Americans suck at driving?

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Another feature you may notice: The green signs are placed over the express lanes; the blue over the collectors. Past the GTA the 401 gets narrower and is a "normal freeway" into Quebec.

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yeah, it's usually crazy busy... don't let those photos fool you... the 401 sucks... and in theory, the middle "express" section is supposed to move faster, but it's usually 50-50 as to whether the "express" or "collectors" will move faster...

when the 401 was built, it was built as a "toronto bypass", being outside the built up urban section of toronto... today, it's pretty much right in the middle... the 407 was built north of toronto a few years ago as an electronic toll road and that has allowed people who want to go faster the ability to pay for that privilege...

incidentally, only one part of the 401 (that i know of) has a nickname... it's the area between the 400 and keele st exits and it's know as "the basketweave", because you can switch from the express to the collectors and vice-versa in both directions... check it out here:

the basketweave from google maps

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About the only thing in the states close to the 401 is Atlanta's Downtown Connector, or (when it's finished), I-10 in Houston from 610 to Katy. For a roadgeek like me, the 401 is a wet dream :D

It looks like most of the road is asphalt judging from the photos. My question is why it wasn't built with concrete as opposed to asphalt, due to the harsh winters and concrete lasting longer and weathering the cold much better.

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not sure why exactly... but as far as i know, no canadian roads are concrete... it was always weird as a kid driving across the border because the interstates were mainly concrete...

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About the only thing in the states close to the 401 is Atlanta's Downtown Connector, or (when it's finished), I-10 in Houston from 610 to Katy.

I've not driven on those roads, but I would say the upper section of the NJ Turnpike is quite like the 401...

such as this.

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I've not driven on those roads, but I would say the upper section of the NJ Turnpike is quite like the 401...

such as this.

Yeah that looks like the 12-lane section south of New Brunswick. The Tpk sustains 16 lanes for awhile through Union & Essex Counties (3 cars-only lanes and 5 lanes in the trucks-cars-buses-HOV section in each direction). I think most of the segment between New Brunswick and the Eastern Spur/Western Spur split is 14 lanes though, dropping to 12 and then 10 lanes before the merge by Exit 8A.

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Yeah that looks like the 12-lane section south of New Brunswick. The Tpk sustains 16 lanes for awhile through Union & Essex Counties (3 cars-only lanes and 5 lanes in the trucks-cars-buses-HOV section in each direction). I think most of the segment between New Brunswick and the Eastern Spur/Western Spur split is 14 lanes though, dropping to 12 and then 10 lanes before the merge by Exit 8A.

I would nominate the NJ Turnpike through Newark, the greatest place in the world for transportation geeks. When you're driving (especially northbound) you can see hundreds of cars, buses and trucks around you on more than a dozen lanes--turn your head to the left and there are all manner of planes, 747s, Airbuses, etc. To the right there are several train lines...and beyond that? Port Newark/Elizabeth with huge container ships dropping off their goods. An amazing sight in all directions.

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It looks like most of the road is asphalt judging from the photos. My question is why it wasn't built with concrete as opposed to asphalt, due to the harsh winters and concrete lasting longer and weathering the cold much better.

Concrete doesn't last longer here in Canada the main problem is due to the winters. The ground freezing and thawing causes holes under the concrete to form just like anything else and you get the infamous pothole.

Although many people don

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when the 401 was built, it was built as a "toronto bypass", being outside the built up urban section of toronto... today, it's pretty much right in the middle... the 407 was built north of toronto a few years ago as an electronic toll road and that has allowed people who want to go faster the ability to pay for that privilege...

Heh... I don't know much about the history of Toronto, but I have read that Montreal has been the "centre" of Canadien commerce until relatively recently. I find it amazing how urban Canada is, most of the growth in the US over the past half century or so has been suburbia or cities that aren't really cities (Phoenix, Los Angeles), while Canada's big cities have continued to grow in population. Must be the high petrol prices up there...

The only one of the "big 3" canada cities I've been to is Montreal. There isn't a city in the US anything like it. It's safe but at the same time almost as vibrant as Manhattan.

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