Wed. Jul 6th, 2022

Aerial view of a control tower at Pearson International Airport near Toronto on August 18, 2017.Patrick Dell / The Globe and Mail

The Ontario government is dangling the prospect of a new transit line across the top of Toronto and another connecting downtown to Pearson International airport, as well as a long list of highway widenings, as part of a multi-decade transportation plan unveiled Thursday.

The package of ideas includes a series of previously announced initiatives and adds a number of new ones to arrive at an $ 82-billion price-tag, though that does not include the full cost of some of the projects. Funding is likely to be sought from the federal government.

“We’re on a mission to build a stronger, more resilient and more connected province,” said Premier Doug Ford at an announcement north of Toronto

“We’m not just building for today, we’re building for the next 50 to 100 years. We’re building for the next generation. We owe it to our kids and our grand-kids to make the decisions now that would benefit them tomorrow ”

Mr. Ford spoke beside a large sign touting the spot as a “Future site of Highway 413,” one of the projects included in the plan.

“Addressing gridlock requires building more highways and establishing more choices on how and when people and goods travel and creative solutions to make the most of the infrastructure,” reads the 35-page plan.

“This includes moving forward with planning and building new highways, like Highway 413 and the Bradford Bypass.”

Both of these highways had already been announced and there was no new detail Thursday on their costs. The plan also included 15 highway widenings and seven “new planned and conceptual corridors.” The plan does not commit to tolling any of these roads, but neither does it commit not to.

The bulk of the $ 82-billion would be spent on transit, much of it already in the works. According to the plan, it “sets out a path to transform the regional transit system from today’s radial network with most connections centered on Union Station and downtown Toronto, to an expansive grid that allows people to travel across the region by transit, quickly and easily , without going through the core. ”

The two transit elements in the plan that are new are also the ones for which the government had few immediate details. They are being described as “conceptual” and have neither a price-tag nor a timeline.

One of these would connect the Ontario Line – which is currently planned to end at Exhibition Place in downtown Toronto – with the main east-west subway at Kipling station and then carry on to the airport. The route would continue to Richmond Hill and is described as a loop, suggesting it would connect ultimately with the north end of the Ontario Line, in Don Mills.

The other new line would connect Burlington and Oshawa, municipalities to the south-west and east of Toronto, across the top of the city. A government official, at a not-for-attribution briefing, said the early concept was for a light rail line running at least in part along the Highway 407 right of way.

Preliminary planning had identified demand for these routes, the official said, adding that more work is needed to determine such specifics as where they would run and what types of vehicles might be used.

Mr. Ford came to provincial office after a term at Toronto city council during which he argued adamantly for subways, picking up a banner that had been carried by his brother Rob, the former mayor. As premier, Mr. Ford upended Toronto transit planning, uploading it to the province and replacing long-standing plans with its own approach.

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