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July 2009
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The Busiest Highway in the World

Transnational Freight Flows and Emerging North American MegaregionsHighway 401 – If it’s daylight it’s probably congested. The busiest section of the 401 runs east-west through Toronto and sees almost 500,000 cars on peak days (in comparison LA’s 405 sees about 380,000 cars per day), but the highway extends from the Detroit River in Windsor all the way through to the Ontario-Quebec border.

Multimodal Highways are the Future

I recently finished and wrote a book review of Alphabet City’s book Fuel, which had a great section on the post-carbon highway specifically evaluating Highway 401. The existing highway at it’s widest is 18-lanes with a core-collector system and goes down to 4-lanes in the more rural sections. The future highway will have rail, cycle, transfer stations – it will be the ultimate people mover. With Ontario’s Places to Grow plan and the ever increasing population there is no denying that there needs to be a shift in the way people use the 401.

The 401 is already congested now imagine how gridlocked it would be with a 30% increase in population

A few facts about the 401

  • Total length = 820 km (509.6 miles)
  • $1.2 Trillion worth of goods travel the highway each year or $3.3 Billion per day
  • Annual Average Daily Traffic = 420,000 vehicles
  • Peak Average Daily Traffic = 500,000 vehicles
  • 71,000 tonnes of salt (NaCl) used annually to combat ice and snow

There is no denying that highways will always play a huge role in moving people to places and things to people in North America. The goal of reducing the carbon footprint on the highways is to incorporate ‘green’ initiatives; wind turbines, pervious pavements, electric vehicles, carpooling, trees along right-of-ways …