Highway 401 and Yonge St. Interchange Update

August 2015

Toronto Condo News continues to follow the saga of the Highway 401 and Yonge St. Interchange.

The Yonge St. and Sheppard Ave. intersection may be the most congested in the city. The area has a High Density designation per provincial and municipal policies. This allows developers to build more and larger residential buildings than in other areas. With this density comes a need for improved roads and other city services.

With more than 130 high-rise condo buildings along a 2 km stretch of Yonge St., the area is the largest condo community in the region.

While condo building and population continue to grow in the community, area residents wait for the city and province to provide adequate road infrastructure.

They have been waiting for more than ten years. One of the major area bottlenecks is the Highway 401 eastbound ramp from Yonge St. south.

There has been an independent study on this issue and a number of technical studies with shared work done by the City and the Province of Ontario. During this time condo buildings continued to receive approval for development based on dubious claims of a negligible impact on area traffic.

Experience shows these claims of “negligible impact” to be less than truthful. Streets near Yonge St. are heavily congested and getting worse. What was once a three minute drive can now take 20 minutes.

During the 2014 provincial election, MPP David Zimmer identified a new 401 Eastbound ramp from Yonge Street southbound as a priority to helping address area gridlock.

Phase 2 Traffic Modelling Analysis – Environmental Assessment – and recommendations was complete in March 2015. Mr. Zimmer reports that the report and recommendations were presented to the Ministry of Transportation and City officials in mid-April. A Public Meeting to present the recommendations tentatively scheduled for late April or early May never took place.

At this time the Ontario Ministry of Transportation must approve the recently completed Environmental Assessment.

Despite support by both MPP David Zimmer and Councillor John Filion who represent the area, there does not appear to be the same imperative by the Province or Planning Department to address the lingering congestion implications of the area’s High Density designation.

Given the lack of road infrastructure to support high density growth, the viability of this policy for other areas of the city may be suspect.