Durham Region wants 407 tolls suspended through Whitby during Winchester road widening
Published February 1, 2024 at 8:58 am
Regional councillors in Durham are calling on the Province to suspend tolls on Highway 407 through a portion of Whitby ahead of construction in the area that will lead to “serious gridlock.”
The Region unanimously approved the motion Wednesday to ask Queen’s Park to temporarily remove tolls from a segment of Highway 407 during the widening of Winchester Road between Anderson and Baldwin streets in Brooklin sometime this construction season and through next year.
“We’re building a mid-block road, which will take some of the pressure off in the municipality of Whitby, but it is yet being held-up by the MTO,” said Whitby Councillor Rhonda Mulcahy, adding that parts of Columbus Road just to the north will also be closed. “So as you can imagine, we have some traffic woes ahead of us, and we’re really hoping that the province will listen to us and give us a hand.”
According to the Town of Whitby, which passed a similar motion Monday, Winchester Road will be reduced to one lane of traffic, in one direction, over two construction seasons.
“When the construction starts, it’s going to be a huge issue for people who are going toward the north part of Whitby, Brooklin [or] Ashburn,” said Whitby Councillor Maleeha Shahid.
Pickering Councillor Maurice Brenner called the situation “far-reaching,” noting the eastern leg of Highway 401 starts at Brock Road in Pickering. “There is no question that we already face serious gridlock along Highway 7. We face serious gridlock on Taunton. And we have serious problems because of that. That negatively impacts our ability to be able to market when it comes to economic development and attracting businesses.”
Oshawa Councillor Tito-Dante Marimpietri supported the motion but argued that a ‘Plan B’ should be ready ahead of time.
“I’m not so certain that we’re going to get the support that we need,” he said. “It’s not a question of politics; it’s a question of economics and reality. How long is that road work going to happen for? How long is the provincial government willing to forego those revenues? And how long is it going to take for us to get their response?”
The first phase of Highway 407’s east portion, from Brock Road in Pickering to Harmony Road in Oshawa, opened in 2016. The final leg – taking the highway out to Hwy 35/115 in Clarington – opened during the pandemic.
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