Comment 12133

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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