Mid-Pen Highway Study 'Astoundingly Narrow'

By Jason Leach
Published September 26, 2007

What do you expect from a US consultant hired to tell us how wonderful a new highway will be?

Hamiltonians aren't as dumb as we used to be. We were told grandiose visions and incredible projections regarding job creation and turning the economy around back when Red Hill was a debate.

I suppose some of the projections are coming true in the form of movie theatre jobs and part-timers at Tim Horton's.

The big difference this time is that Mid-Peninsula Highway will roar through great farmland and rural communities between here and Fort Erie.

I can't wait to see our local media attempt to portray farmers, rural residents and hard-working old-timers as crazy, nut-job, left-wing wackos as they begin to oppose this unnecessary highway.

Perhaps the government should start by expanding VIA rail into Hamilton and GO into East Hamilton/Niagara.

If we're so concerned about congestion, let's at least give people an option other than the QEW.

Jason Leach was born and raised in the Hammer and currently lives downtown with his wife and children. You can follow him on twitter.


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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted September 26, 2007 at 15:50:39

hear hear. I couldn't believe this when I saw it in the paper today. What kills me is the QEW Niagara isn't even that congested. We need to spend money on rail immediately, and then we'll see that these roads are completely unnecessary.

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By jason (registered) | Posted September 26, 2007 at 16:38:07

yup...i think there's some big wigs behind the scenes wanting this to be built. there is absolutely no need. I've never once been in a traffic jam or even slow traffic on the QEW east of the Skyway Bridge. Ever. Shows how powerful some people are. The government is willing to spend hundreds of millions because some joe blow wants them to.

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By Rick (anonymous) | Posted September 26, 2007 at 23:53:18

I don't know what century you drove on the QEW last but it is packed almost all the time. It is getting almost as bad as the section from Hamilton to Toronto. Yes there should be Go and more VIA out to Niagara, but that will not reduce congestion. It is only advantage to few people who has business close to a station. The congestion on the QEW is growing faster than any new transit system will help.

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By Frank (registered) | Posted September 27, 2007 at 08:53:41

I tend to agree with Rick. I used to work in Niagara on the Lake and went the reverse of the majority of traffic but it is very congested during morning rush hour. I've never witnessed P.M. rush hour because I came home late. The QEW in St. Kitts is getting widened to 3 lanes throughout the city and that should help a bit. I think that some viable rail transit would help except that the transit systems in the smaller cities aren't built like ours. I don't think that the Mid Pen highway is the solution however. And those people who say the Linc is sufficient need to drive it during rush hour. If people would stop using it as a way to go from one exit to the next, it would get better. It's a highway, not another city street. Use Rymal, Stonechurch, Mohawk or Fennell. Relieving congestion on area highways will mean that people who are travelling thru, out or or around Hamilton will choose the highways over downtown streets.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted September 27, 2007 at 09:04:44

Rick, there will never be enough free lane capacity to meet the demand for free lane capacity. It's like trying to meet demand at a free buffet - the more you demonstrate your willingness to keep putting food out, the more people will keep coming for it.

Road and highway capacity has grown much faster than population for decades, and traffic is worse than ever. This is due to what's called "induced demand" - simply building a highway makes it possible for people to live much farther from where they work, so they do.

Every interchange opens up previously unavailable land to develop, and most developments are low density and single use, which totally commits their residents to driving if they want to get anywhere. The result is under-utilization of existing infrastructure (the destinations, for example, that might be within a reasonable distance of a commuter rail station) and an increase in land use that far outstrips the increase in population.

New highways will never get ahead of demand, because their mere existence creates the demand they're trying to meet.

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By jason (registered) | Posted September 27, 2007 at 10:22:06

rail and better transit will certainly help for the folks working in east hamilton, downtown hamilton and then off in the GTA.

if there is daily congestion on the QEW Niagara then someone should tell the traffic chopper guys on CHML and 680 News. other than a massive accident it's "clear sailing" all day, every day (including anytime I've been on it). I know when I leave my house downtown to go to Allentown in downtown Buffalo that is exactly going to take me 1 hour to get there....and sure enough, it does. Every single time.

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By highwater (registered) | Posted September 27, 2007 at 13:50:06

I'd love to know what day and time you're travelling Jason! I've never made it to Buffalo in less than an hour and a half. I travel to Rochester 3 or 4 times a year, and Welland about once a month. If you think morning rush hour is bad, you should see the weekends when everyone is going to the casino or over the border. I've seen it stop and go from Stoney Creek to St. Catharines. I don't go over the border on weekends anymore. When I have to go to Rochester, I go on weekdays or late at night, and we've started taking Hwy 20 when we go to Welland.

That said, Ryan is absolutely right. More capacity is not the answer, and the Mid-Pen would be an environmental and social disaster.

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By jason (registered) | Posted September 27, 2007 at 13:58:07

wow...I guess I'm lucky anytime I travel along that stretch. mind you, I always use the Peace Bridge since it's way quicker than the Lewiston one.

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted September 27, 2007 at 16:27:13

Sounds like this congestion is due to border issues and not traffic issues.....

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By Jon Dalton (anonymous) | Posted September 27, 2007 at 16:31:38

New highways will always seem like a good idea if you don't question the underlying assumptions behind the study.

Ryan hit on something important here. Currently most industrial development follows the path of the biggest highway, with clusters around the highway's interchanges. The QEW for example, is at the age where it's choking own its own induced demand, and they keep building more. It's gridlock every day on the Hamilton to Toronto stretch. Now watch what happens in the next few years with the addition of the new First Pro shopping centre between Burloak and Bronte and the new Wal-Mart at Brant St. We build highways that can't support their own induced traffic and then say we need more highways. What happens to the new highways 30 years later?

Rick also made an important point - rail stations are of tremendous benefit to the adjacent businesses. If there was functional commuter rail through developable lands, new business would be able to set up around nodes accessible by train to workers in nearby cities. Clustering around rail stations would also promote a higher density than that of highway focused industrial parks. The station would also be attractive to new housing developments.

Any time public funds are put into rail instead of highway construction, it starts a positive feedback loop that prompts sustainable development, which increases use of the rail system, improving its cost efficiency and allowing improvements in service, which brings more riders and more capacity, fostering more sustainable development.

The more people use a transit system and the more development occurs along its nodes, the more efficient and successful it becomes. This equation doesn't work for highways.

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By jason (registered) | Posted September 27, 2007 at 22:11:04're right on. Sadly, government doesn't care about return on investment, proper development or best use of tax money. They care only about getting re-elected, and the Walmarts, McDonalds and homebuilders of the world are the ones with the power to do just that.

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By watching from europe (anonymous) | Posted September 29, 2007 at 05:37:10

I own one of those farms on the widely sketched proposed route through Niagara. When I look at the big picture of agriculture in Ontario, I have to say it would be better to develop around the proposed corridor rather than the higher quality land that we continue to develop from GTA west. Our land is worth about 1/8 of the farm land in most of southern Ontario due to its lower level of productivity. From another perspective, I have been working in agricultural development in southeast Europe for two years and have observed throughout much of Europe, how rail travel has significantly prevented development in the best agricultural areas and the highways are not congested. I would also suggest that tolls and the higher travel speeds on the highways help to minimize the total number of vehicles on the road so whoever uses a highway can be confident of a high-speed trip. In terms of cost, it generally works out that if I am travelling alone or with one passenger it is cheaper to travel by train, travel time depends on the destination, more or less than by car. With three or more people travelling, it is cheaper to take the car.

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By Halton (registered) - website | Posted October 03, 2007 at 02:24:57

These People Know about Provincial MTO Trickery The Stop the 424 Association was founded as a result of the proposed Brantford to Cambridge highway bypass. Apparently One piece of Provincial Legislation Makes the proposed 424 Illegal as Well. They are a local non-profit organization whose . ...

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By Mogadon Megalodon (anonymous) | Posted May 18, 2011 at 16:05:37

It's baaaaaaaack....

Mid-Pen Highway Community Meeting

Thursday, May 19 - 6:30pm to 8:30pm

Carlisle Arena (1496 Centre Rd., Waterdown)

Hear first hand from MTO staff on new information from the latest draft Transportation Development Strategy for the Niagara to GTA Corridor (Mid-Pen) report and the current 90-day public comment period on this report.

The presentation will also focus on the newest study area route through Flamborough (Ancaster Hwy #52, Westover, Millgrove, Carlisle, Kilbride and North Burlington to Hwy #407), as well as next steps for public consultation. The meeting will include brief presentations from Hamilton Airport President Richard Korosil, COPE Citizens Sue McMaster, and audience Q&A.

Agenda: Niagara-GTA Corridor/Mid-Pen Meeting

May 19, 2011 // 6:30pm – 8:30pm

Hosted by: Councillor Judi Partridge

Facilitated by: Arend Kersten, Flamborough Chamber of Commerce

1. Welcome – The Honourable Ted McMeekin, MPP Ancaster Dundas Flamborough

2. Introductions – Councillor Judi Partridge, Flamborough Ward 15 Hamilton

3. Presentation by: John Slobodzian & Patrick Puccini, Ministry of Transportation

4. Comments by Richard Koroscil, President & CEO John C. Munro Airport

5. Presentation by: Sue McMaster & Pete Zuzek, COPE

Also in attendance for questions and answer purposes:

Representative from Strategic Planning, City of Hamilton – Rob Norman

Representative from Rapid Transit, City Of Hamilton – Jillian Stephen

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