GTA West Corridor
The proposed highway would serve as an outer orbital beltway around the built-up areas of Brampton and Vaughan that would permit traffic travelling between Southwestern Ontario and Ontario's cottage country or Northern Ontario to bypass much of the Greater Toronto Area. However, the highway has attracted criticism for its environmental impacts, including concerns about its footprint on designated farmland in the Greenbelt and allegations it will encourage urban sprawl and induce road traffic.
No funding has been identified to construct the highway and the earliest possible start of construction is in the 2020s. In December 2015, the Ministry of Transport suspended the environmental assessment process and promised an update in 2016.
Current proposals for the route place its starting point at the interchange of Highway 401 and Highway 407 ETR at Steeles Avenue and Ninth Line at the Halton–Peel boundary. The freeway would orbit the western and northern fringes of Brampton, providing access to Highway 410. Beyond Brampton it would travel eastwards to connect with Highway 400, passing south of Bolton and north of Kleinburg. The freeway would feature an interchange with Highway 427 upon completion of the northward extension of that route.
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The GTA West Corridor was identified in the Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe in 2005. At that time, further study was deemed necessary to refine the corridor and define what kind of transportation facilities, if any, should be constructed.
Early concepts of the GTA West Corridor involved a longer route running east-west between Guelph and Highway 400 that did not intersect Highways 401 or 407. A potential freeway in such a corridor, when combined with the planned expanded Highway 7, would result in a lengthy parallel route to the north of Highway 401 from Waterloo Region to Highway 400. However, analysis showed limited demand for such a route, and the environmental consequences of a new crossing of the Niagara Escarpment were considerable. By 2011, these concepts were discarded and planning focused on an orbital concept that would intersect with Highway 401 in Milton or Halton Hills to the east of the existing crossing of the Niagara Escarpment.
A preliminary study area map released in March 2011 proposed a bypass that would run around the southeastern edges of Halton Hills, lying approximately five to eight kilometres north of Highway 401, running primarily parallel before terminating in Milton. A revised preliminary study area in June 2012 since eliminated this proposal, instead proposing a widening of Highway 401 west of Highway 407 through Milton.
With the corridor refined into a defined route planning area, Stage 1 of the GTA West Corridor Environmental Assessment was completed in November 2012. Stage 2 began in February 2014 with the objective to developing a preliminary design for a highway within that route planning area.
On December 16, 2015, the Minister of Transportation, Steven Del Duca announced that he was suspending the environmental assessment process and that the project would be reviewed with an update promised in 2016.
The Halton–Peel Freeway (or "Halton Hills Expressway") is a related highway proposal. From 2007 to 2010, in parallel to the stage 1 GTA West study being undertaken by the province, the municipalities of Halton Region and Peel Region completed their own study, the Halton-Peel Boundary Area Transportation Study (HPBATS). HPBATS recommended a north-south freeway east of Georgetown and west of Brampton that would connect in the north with a potential east-west GTA West highway. At the time, it was not clear if a potential GTA West highway would arc around the northwestern edge of Brampton and run along this corridor, and the Halton-Peel Freeway was put forward as a potential complementary project. Two years later the provincial study recommended that a portion of its new GTA West highway should follow a broadly similar corridor as the Halton–Peel Freeway. The GTA West website notes that "the ministry has taken over the responsibility of this study, and some of the potential GTA West route alternatives reflect the essence of the HPBATS recommended road network."
- Proposed highway to pave parts of Greenbelt proving controversial
- GTA West highway: Forward thinking or retro mistake?
- GTA West FAQs
- GTA West Stage 1 Archive
- GTA West Stage 2 Schedule
- "Ontario to Review Greater Toronto Area West Corridor Project". Government of Ontario. December 16, 2015.
- Halton-Peel Boundary Area Transportation Study
- Report calls for new freeway and Norval bypass