Letter to the Editor – Erhardt Peper of New Dundee Ontario wants an Ontario Super Highway System – June 18, 2011
New Dundee ON – Frustrated with gridlock? Tired of high traffic volumes? Looking for the true freedom of safer, more enjoyable and better driving? The idea of Ontario’s new Super Highway program may just be your answer.
MTO (Ministry of Transportation of Ontario) operated highways currently have some of the slowest speed limits in the entire developed world. In some countries, people travel more than twice as fast as in Ontario. Super
Highway systems have been in place and operating successfully in those countries for many years. Although road transportation is the core of business, Ontario lags far behind much of the world in highway travel.
Considering the number of people, goods and services that are presently transported through highway systems, it would make sense for Ontario to use the Super Highway program. Many existing sections of Ontario’s 400 series highways (example highways 400, 401, 407) would be suitable for this type of Super Highway development. Other secondary two lane, divided MTO operated provincial highways (example highways 402, 403, Hwy 7/8 west of Kitchener), would also use this concept. The Super Highway program could be implemented into any existing two or more lane divided highway sections of our present provincial highways. Not all sections of our existing provincial highways could be part of the Super Highway system as highways passing through cities and built up areas would remain non-Super Highway zones.
Successive sections of designated Super Highway could be linked together with Ontario’s present non-Super Highway sections. On most of the 400-Series highways, existing sections of highway are sufficient and the tapers of the entry/exit ramps are also better than other Super Highway systems in the world. As well, there are wide paved shoulders on either one or both sides of Ontario’s provincial highways which are safety features not found in other Super Highway systems of the world. In fact, Ontario’s Super Highways are already built, but unfortunately are not being used as such.
The Super Highway program would operate at very little cost. It would all be done easily through a few minor structured step by step driving changes that require following only a few simple changes to the “rules of the
road” as listed below. Cars, motorcycles, passenger vans, crossovers, SUV’s and pickup trucks would be considered to be light vehicles. Trucks, buses and motor homes would be considered heavy vehicles. Towing a trailer behind a light vehicle or carrying a load in a light vehicle would classify the vehicle as a heavy vehicle for traveling on the new Super Highway sections.
Light vehicles would ONLY pass on the left in designated areas of Super Highway sections. There would be NO passing on the right at highway speeds. Mirrors on most vehicles are already set up to give better
visibility for passing on the left. Light vehicles would not be allowed to continuously travel along in the left hand lane for extended periods of time and would not be allowed to block other light vehicles from passing.
The exception to passing on the right would be in a traffic slowdown area below 30 kph, where passing on the right could be practiced with caution.
The far right hand lane would be used whenever it is free, regardless of vehicle type. However when heavy vehicles are traveling in the right lane, the center lane(s) of a 3 or more lane Super Highway section could be used
as the “cruise” lane for light vehicles. Slower traffic would be required to stay in the right lane.
Light vehicles would have to be driven according to their respective handling and performance capabilities. Heavy vehicles in the new Super Highway areas would travel at a speed limit of 110 kph in favorable weather conditions. Heavy vehicles would be required to use the far right hand lane in the Super Highway areas. They would be allowed to pass another heavy vehicle on the left in frequent heavy vehicle passing zones located in non-Super Highway sections (steep hills, highway on ramps, around city centers) and would be given a reasonable distance to pass. Light vehicles would be given specific speed limits where there are truck passing zones. Keeping heavy vehicles free of the center lanes in the Super Highway sections would allow light vehicles to pass quickly and lower the light vehicle traffic volume. Reducing the interaction between light and heavy vehicles could improve highway safety.
Light vehicles would not be allowed to inhibit the speed of heavy vehicles in the right lane. In the event of a traffic slowdown, heavy vehicles would be allowed to pass on the right below 30 kph in the Super Highway
sections. On the Super Highway sections, all vehicles would go back to the present speed limits if the weather or road conditions became unfavorable for driving. There are already existing provisions in the Highway Traffic Act covering this driving condition. In the event of a traffic slowdown, all vehicles approaching the traffic slowdown area would be required to warn the drivers behind them, using their 4 way flashers as they approached the
traffic slowdown area.
The Blood Alcohol limit on these new Super Highway sections could be lowered. A few minor changes would have to be made to our present provincial MTO divided highways in order for them to become Super Highways.
Limit the sections of this new Super Highway to those sections which have a 5 percent road gradient or less. In other words, the new Super Highway sections of our existing provincial highway infrastructure would not be in
areas where there are steep hills. On sharper curves of existing 2 or more lane divided provincial highways, specific speed limits could be imposed if needed, in the new Super Highway designated sections.
Police using the new Super Highway could be given vehicles that are far superior in performance, handling, comfort, acceleration, braking, emissions and fuel economy than they presently have although the present
police vehicles could serve until new replacements arrived. Speed limits for light vehicles could easily be raised by 30 kph over present speed limits in some existing non-Super Highway built up areas.
As for the Super Highway itself, it only has to have proper signs to get this system in place and signs aren’t expensive either. Start the program in the designated Super Highway sections as soon as the new signs are up stating the minor changes to the “rules of the road”. At the beginning of the program, strictly enforce the rules of the road as listed above. We are going to make the Super Highway sections safer before improving them. A couple of months later, increase the speed limit to a 140 kph advisory speed limit for light vehicles, not strict general speed limits as we now have. Yellow advisory speed limit signs allow light vehicles to drive at speeds which are governed by the amount of traffic volume and the surrounding traffic speed. Then a couple of months after increasing to the 140 kph advisory speed limit, deregulate the advisory speed limit for light vehicles and post it as unlimited speed. Light vehicles would not be suppressed by the repressive general speed limits we currently have. Traffic volumes and travel times would be reduced.
This new Super Highway system could be started within one year. Phasing it in over several months, a few sections at a time, would give drivers the chance to easily become comfortable with it. It would also give the MTO
time to make minor adjustments where deemed necessary. Until the Super Highway program is place, there isn’t the demand to make major advancements in automotive technology. As a result of the new Super
Highway program, the automotive manufacturing sector could itself be revolutionized, producing many new jobs for years to come. New design, engineering and manufacturing techniques could be developed as
advancements could be made in aerodynamics, engine, power train, emissions, fuel economy, electronics, comfort, suspension, handling and intelligent advanced driving systems for both light and heavy vehicles.
All businesses in Ontario would benefit from reduced travel time costs as a result of the Super Highway system. It would allow companies to do more business in less time and save you money in travel time costs. A lesser
version of the Super Highway program would not allow Canada to be at the forefront of highway development in North America.
If you like the idea of developing true Super Highways in Ontario, contact your local member of provincial parliament. Let’s move, Ontario!!
Erhardt Peper - New Dundee, Ontario