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Gridlocked: Toronto's 401 now N.A.'s busiest

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I'm going to try this thread again.




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Waiting the hardest part

No Easy Way Out

THE "PHENOMENAL" number of vehicles on Hwy. 401 as it cuts through Toronto makes it the busiest freeway in North America -- and each collision can cost Ontario's economy thousands of dollars. Traffic on the 401 has doubled in the past 25 years and now averages 410,000 cars an hour, said Phil Masters, the head of the province's advance traffic management centre, commonly known as the Compass system that monitors traffic throughout the GTA.

"Hwy. 401 is definitely the most heavily travelled freeway in North America, probably the most heavily travelled freeway in the world," Masters said. "We're up close to 500,000 on peak days, which is just a phenomenal number."

That staggering figure compares with 380,000 on Los Angeles' famed freeways and 350,000 on the I-75 in Atlanta.

The huge volume has also changed the job of the officers who police it, said Sgt. Cam Woolley of the Ontario Provincial Police, which investigates 15,000 collisions a year on the 401 in the Toronto area.

"Collisions have gone from being merely inconvenient to a severe danger for police, drivers and the factories that now rely on the goods being shipped on the road," Woolley said.

He said a four-hour closure of three or more lanes can hamper businesses waiting for inventory to be delivered.

Lanes used to be shut down for eight to 14 hours while investigators did their job. Now, with heavier tow trucks, damaged cars and trucks can be removed and lanes re-opened quicker. A complete towing cleanup can cost as much as $30,000, Woolley said.

"Hundreds have been injured and many killed over the years in secondary collisions," he said.

Overhead message boards, introduced in 1991, have cut down on secondary collisions by at least 12%, Masters said.

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Copy and paste of my comments in the other thread:

I continue to think that one of the big problems with 401 overcrowding is the lack of free alternatives. The 407 serves as an alternative for commuters, and even as a bypass for the 401 from its western intersection to the 404/401 intersection, but because it's tolled many people prefer to take the 401 and branch off on the 400/404 northwards to reach Vaughn/Markham/Richmond Hill. The same can be said of the 407 paralleling the QEW in the western suburbs.

But most notably there is no freeway bias in Scarborough on the 401, and it would be wise to connect the 407 at its eastern terminus to the 401, so at least truckers, etc. would take it as a bypass on long distance routes.

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Well this could actually be a good thing as it means the area is not paving itself to oblivion like some other cities just to acommidate the automoble. I assume there are decent alternatives to this highway?

The alternative is to move near your work so you can walk there ;)

Toronto's rush-hour gridlock is worse than any American city I've been to, and surpassed only by Vancouver amongst all cities I've been to.

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There are actually cameras where you can view live traffic on the freeway.


These are used by COMPASS, which is a freeway traffic management system operated by the government. I don't know how much difference the system makes in terms of traffic congestion, but at least you can see the traffic on the internet before you head out on the road.

When the 401 was first built, it was basically at the northern edge of the developed limits, and was seen as a "Toronto bypass". Sprawl now extends for miles North of the highway, so the highway basically cuts through the centre of the developed city.

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Guest donaltopablo

Is some of those camera views the highway actually looks like it a double 6 lane road. Is it like the Jersey turnpike where they have seperate lines for trucks or something?

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  • 1 month later...

The 401 has express and collector lanes heading in the same direction, and each may be ~4-5 lanes in length. So you have the Eastbound collector lanes, the Eastbound express lanes below that, followed by the Westbound express lanes and the Westbound collector lanes. All together it makes for one monster of a highway that can be over 20 lanes wide at points.

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