In late October, John joined representatives from the Yonge Corridor Condominium Association, West Lansing Homeowners Association and West Willowdale Neighbourhood Association for a meeting they arranged at Queen’s Park with Willowdale MPP David Zimmer and Ontario Minister of Transportation Steven Del Duca. The focus of discussion was the ongoing delays in proceeding to an Environmental Assessment (EA) of the Yonge Street/Highway 401 interchange improvements.
Residents, along with John, expressed their frustration over the stalling of a Feasibility Study in 2015. In the summer of 2016, the Province announced moving forward with another study – an Engineered Value Assessment (EVA) – as another precondition to the EA.
Minister Del Duca confirmed what had long been assumed by residents – that MTO would not support a project that would have a negative impact on its Highway 401 operations mandate. The many ongoing studies have been an attempt to find a solution to moving left turning southbound Yonge traffic more smoothly onto eastbound 401 without impacting highway 401 traffic flow. Minister Del Duca conveyed some optimism that MTO engineers would find a solution and committed to producing a timeline.
It remains John’s position that improving the traffic flow at Yonge/401 is this area’s top infrastructure priority. Backups at this interchange can often take out a full lane of southbound traffic on Yonge Street and delays northbound traffic as well. The City was prepared to move to an EA in 2013 at John’s insistence, a priority reaffirmed by Council in December 2015. The interchange sitting on MTO land however, continues to wait for MTO approval. For more detail on the history of this project, visit www.stopthedelays.ca
Original Post (June 2016):
Local residents are painfully aware of the traffic delays caused by the backup of cars trying to turn left onto eastbound 401 from Yonge Street. Now it’s time to focus on the other big delay – by the Provincial Ministry of Transportation – which has now spent years finding ways to avoid fixing this problem.
At John’s initiative, improving the Yonge/401 interchange has been identified as the single most important solution to traffic gridlock in the Yonge & Sheppard area. Recently City Council asked Mayor John Tory to raise the issue directly with Premier Kathleen Wynne. He did. However, the response was another letter from MTO to the City in May referencing yet another traffic study.
The Provincial Transportation staff don’t care about congestion on Yonge Street because it’s not their road. Although they won’t say it directly in public, they want to keep the situation the way it is because it helps contain traffic entry onto their road – the 401. No matter how many studies are done, the Provincial bureaucrats keep stalling by requiring another one.
The City has set aside funding for its share of a solution. Because the interchange is on Provincial land, the City can’t fix the problem by itself.
John wrote to the Minister of Transportation this month expressing his frustration on behalf of residents. He has also launched a community website documenting the history of the issue and linking to an online petition.
Please take a moment to sign the petition seeking a clear commitment from MTO. If you can, forward it to others in the neighbourhood. It’s time to stop the delays!