New Roads for the GTA

The Globe and Mail has nicely summarized the expressways being planned for the western GTA.

I like to fancy myself an environmentally conscious person. I ride the bus, albeit more out of economic necessity than personal virtue. I love anything on rails and recognize the evils cars.

But I also think these road are a good idea. How do I reconcile this conflict?

(Partly, I suspect, it is purely partisan. I trust the Premier, even though that is probably an unhealthy attitude to have towards a politician.)

The age of oil is not going to end abruptly. People will be driving gasoline powered vehicles well into the future. Even when oil becomes so expensive that most people cannot drive to work or companies cannot ship goods by truck, we shouldn’t rule out the development of replacement technologies that keep our expressways busy. There is a lot invested in the current way of doing and thinking.

I’m all for extensive public transit within and between cities, but not to the exclusion of all other forms of transport.

I do have a one reservations about these new expressways, which will hopefully be dealt with in the exhaustive environmental assessment process: These roads have to be accompanied by a growth strategy that doesn’t allow for low-density subdivisions and strip malls to proliferate between each interchange. Expressways are meant to expedite long-distance travel, not driving to get milk.

Expressways can be destructive if built improperly. Think of the difference between the 401, which even today mostly functions as a bypass, and the much-loathed Gardiner Expressway in Toronto. I hope, with the decades of planning and billions of dollars that are going into these roads, that we get it right.


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