In his first press conference since becoming premier of Ontario, Doug Ford on Monday announced his plan to build a toll-free high-speed highway between the Greater Toronto Area and Montreal. Ford referred to the Pan Am-Parapan Am Games in Toronto as a reason for his latest political move.
Ford pledged $800 million for the proposed highway, which could be part of the redesigned 407 East Link. The 407 Link would run about 70 km through Toronto’s west end, through neighbourhoods and connecting to the Highway 401, an existing road.
While the money is a financial commitment, Ford said that he had no intention of building an infrastructure that would bypass much of Toronto. He claimed that 60 per cent of the traffic on the 407 is generated by commuters from Montreal.
“The 407 is carrying some 65,000 vehicles per day — more than 200 vehicles per minute — which means that trucks are cutting through roads and making the city more congested,” Ford said. “It is not feasible, it is not safe and it is not fair. We must look to the future and we must solve problems.”
The 407 is already a toll-free highway, though the increases in traffic have led to its downgrade from a government-funded to a tax-funded road.
“Everyone gets things for free,” Ford said. “We are not getting those things in this province.”
Mayor John Tory — who had enthusiastically supported Ford’s candidacy when the two sat down for an interview with am New York Times — was visibly disappointed. “We will do everything we can to help,” he said.