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Author Topic: Opinion of HOV Lanes and Widenings on GTA's Freeways - A Scam  (Read 5532 times)

MisterSG1

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Opinion of HOV Lanes and Widenings on GTA's Freeways - A Scam
« on: October 30, 2014, 06:55:05 PM »

It's long been said lately that Toronto has the worst congestion on the continent. In that commute times apparently here are the longest. Some point to the old saying that I'm sure most of us are familiar with, you know the old "obese person and belt" analogy. But this is my opinion on the state of widening/freeway extension plans in Southern Ontario.

I've always thought the belt analogy is unfair, because it assumes that being a large city is inherently a bad thing to begin with. The Greater Toronto Area's population (mainly due to immigration) has been increasing by a rate of around 100,000 per year. Obviously as the developers build more and more subdivisions in the former boonies, it will lead to more cars on the road. Before the current Liberal government in power since 2003, widenings were made to accommodate the growth on existing freeways, but lately, grand master plans that were designed to hold large scale widenings originally have been corrupted by throwing HOV lanes in the mix.

HOV lanes in Ontario really only work for the HOV lane user traveling entirely through the "HOV zone" on the freeway. For instance, in the QEW scenario, if we have a bumper to bumper QEW in Halton Region heading westbound towards Niagara Region, and the HOV user wishes to exit at Burloak, this driver will have to cross over all "general purpose" lanes to get off, because the driver wishes to do this, the HOV lanes may become blockaded as the driver may not be able to easily move into the general purpose lanes. Since they have to "bounce" all the way to the right, many drivers would not want this aggravation and may just hold it out in the regular lanes. I've honestly believed that the functionality of HOV lanes makes the situation worse.

As having a background in trucking, I am not a trucker myself but work for a family business currently, let's also look at the QEW scenario regarding commercial traffic. As we know, the QEW is a very important truck route in Ontario. Trucks can not use the left lane, so the widening of HOV lanes did not give the trucks any new space to work with. As it was 3 lanes in one direction before, having 3 + HOV doesn't increase any space for trucks. Is very much gained, I do not think so.

The QEW example is how a long term plan got corrupted, and this is very much happening with Hwy 401 as well. The bridges were rebuilt over the QEW as we know to accommodate a 10-lane cross section. But somewhere along the line, that got corrupted and forced in with the HOV plan.

I used to look forward to such projects in the past, but now, the absurdity of these projects makes me have no interest in them whatsoever. People don't realize how serious the congestion issue is going to get in this city and region. The current setup on the 401 in Mississauga frustrates me to no end.

This is my rant on the whole issue, and nothing looks like is going to change to seriously try to improve how the GTA functions. Anyone with half a brain can tell you that out of the main short north-south freeways in the GTA, that the 427 is the one that most needs an extension. Yet they essentially build an extension to nowhere on the 404.
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Re: Opinion of HOV Lanes and Widenings on GTA's Freeways - A Scam
« Reply #1 on: October 30, 2014, 08:44:13 PM »

This is my rant on the whole issue, and nothing looks like is going to change to seriously try to improve how the GTA functions. Anyone with half a brain can tell you that out of the main short north-south freeways in the GTA, that the 427 is the one that most needs an extension. Yet they essentially build an extension to nowhere on the 404.

I thought GTA stood for Grand Theft Auto...
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AsphaltPlanet

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Re: Opinion of HOV Lanes and Widenings on GTA's Freeways - A Scam
« Reply #2 on: October 30, 2014, 08:49:37 PM »

I'm not a big fan of the 401's future configuration through western Mississauga either.

Nor am I a fan of the future HOV lanes proposed on the 401 through Ajax, or on the 400 north to Barrie.

HOV lanes on roads like the 427 or 404 don't bother me, since those roads primarily function as suburban commuter roads.
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MisterSG1

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Re: Opinion of HOV Lanes and Widenings on GTA's Freeways - A Scam
« Reply #3 on: October 30, 2014, 09:41:27 PM »

But the question is why are they obsessed with pushing this HOV lane nonsense? Any straw poll probably could tell you with transit that the majority of users do not really like the old TransitCity plan. But that's another debate altogether. But really, who are the crackpots involved on the HOV lanes through Mississauga on the 401?

I look at things differently than most people regarding sprawl. Many seem to hate it, but the thing is, people WANT to live in suburbia. Developers wouldn't be building these subdivisions if people didn't want to live up there.

Since when were HOVs planned in Ajax, my understanding was that the express-collector system would be widened through there with the addition of the West Durham Link. Who is in charge? Who makes these outrageous decisions? There is enough of this social engineering, being able to drive around gives a sense of freedom, transit demands a schedule to be followed and to share your space with total strangers. Freedom is a very important concept, a civil engineering professor from University of Toronto has suggested that the solution to Toronto's traffic woes is to implement a license plate driving restriction system. Toronto and the region is a great metro area, but I think I agree with you that I hate the direction it is going.
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AsphaltPlanet

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Re: Opinion of HOV Lanes and Widenings on GTA's Freeways - A Scam
« Reply #4 on: October 30, 2014, 10:47:48 PM »

Over the long term the collector lanes are supposed to be extended to the West Durham Link from Brock Road on the 401 through Ajax, but the new inner express lanes is supposed to be an HOV lane.  Which to me seems dumb.  I don't really get the purpose of adding HOV lanes to the express lane segments of the 401 because the trip length needs to be so long for the HOV lane to be useful.

I don't have a problem with HOV lanes per se, but I don't like to see them on either complex freeways or on rural freeways as are proposed.

Congesion on the 401 is a problem right now.  At 7:00 pm on a weeknight of middays on a weekend, it's not OK that the eastbound lanes of the 401 are backed up from the 427 to the Allen Road.  It's too bad the implementation of the 407 was mismanaged so poorly.  I don't think it's necessarily a bad thing that the highway is tolled so expensively during peak periods, (realistically, I think that is the cost of congestion free movement at rush hour), but during off-peak hours the highway is expensive, and seemingly could be better utilized to pick up some of the slack.
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cl94

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Re: Opinion of HOV Lanes and Widenings on GTA's Freeways - A Scam
« Reply #5 on: November 08, 2014, 03:43:39 PM »

The QEW HOV lanes are great for the significant number of people going between Toronto and Hamilton/Buffalo/the Niagara Peninsula. Could there be one more general purpose lane? Yes. But I've never seen anybody not use the HOV lanes as express lanes (and they are used).

The high cost of 407 and the lack of E-ZPass acceptance are why I don't use it when in Ontario (quite often). I once looked up the cost of traveling between the QEW and 401. It's insane, even at night. If it cost $2-$3 to travel the distance off-peak, I'd use it. But not at $7.50-$9 on weekends.
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haljackey

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Re: Opinion of HOV Lanes and Widenings on GTA's Freeways - A Scam
« Reply #6 on: December 02, 2014, 11:28:53 PM »

I think the HOV lanes on the 401 will only work if the leftmost lane was designated HOV only throughout all of Greater Toronto / Greater Golden Horseshoe.

The QEW would likely have functioned better with 10 GP lanes rather than the current 6+2HOV system. I'd prefer it to be 8+2HOV, but whatever.

The planned 400 HOVs also make sense to me as this is a commuter route to Barrie.

I don't know enough about the other ones to comment, but I agree that the HOV lanes are useless for the short to mid distance carpooler due to significant weaving to get in and out of them and their short lengths.
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cl94

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Re: Opinion of HOV Lanes and Widenings on GTA's Freeways - A Scam
« Reply #7 on: December 02, 2014, 11:43:23 PM »

I don't know enough about the other ones to comment, but I agree that the HOV lanes are useless for the short to mid distance carpooler due to significant weaving to get in and out of them and their short lengths.

They aren't meant for short distance travel. There are enough people going from Burlington, Hamilton, Niagara Falls, etc. to north and east of Toronto (and vice versa) that they function as express lanes. Would an extra GP lane each direction help? Certainly. But, as it stands, the QEW can't be widened east of 403 unless they built another level and 403 would need some major reconstruction to carry another lane, especially at the 407 interchange. 4 lanes separate into 5 (3 to QEW, 2 to 403) at the eastern split. Since 407 has the capacity, may as well entice people to use it. Believe me- I know how traffic can get over there. Would be nice, but the cost to do it properly (add extra capacity further east) won't be enough to justify it.
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AsphaltPlanet

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Re: Opinion of HOV Lanes and Widenings on GTA's Freeways - A Scam
« Reply #8 on: December 03, 2014, 11:48:48 AM »

The QEW is going to be widened east of the 403 into Etobicoke within the next decade.  Preliminary designs are underway and I think project delivery is planned for sometime in the early 2020s (though that could change).

MTO's website is useless, but here are some project information for individual projects planned along the corridor:
http://qewdixieea.ca/

Credit River bridge twinning fact sheet
http://mmmgrouplimited.com/projects/qew-credit-river-crossing-environmental-assessment-and-preliminary-design/

QEW/403 Oakville interchange improvements:
http://www.oakville.ca/assets/general%20-%20residents/transportationstudy-403-QEW-execsum.pdf
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cl94

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Re: Opinion of HOV Lanes and Widenings on GTA's Freeways - A Scam
« Reply #9 on: December 04, 2014, 05:42:56 PM »

I'm surprised they're doing it. Certainly needed, but it'll be a tight squeeze, unless they tear down a bunch of homes.
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