The latest new section of Highway 407 opened to traffic on schedule on June 20, extending the toll highway eastward by 21 kilometres and adding a link to Highway 401.
The original section of Highway 407, which was built between 1997-2001 and is privately operated, is one of the world’s only electronically tolled highways. There are no entry booths, but rather cameras record licence plates at the on and off-ramps. The highway was also one of the first highways paved in concrete and one of the first projects to be built as a public-private partnership. Its first section won a Canadian Consulting Engineering award of excellence in 1999.
The highway begins in Burlington to the west and extends across the top of the Greater Toronto Area. The new 407 East Phase 1 project runs in Durham Region, from Brock Road in Pickering to Harmony Road in Oshawa. The project also involved a 10-km north-south Highway 412 link from the new highway south to meet Highway 401, the existing east-west main artery of the Greater Toronto Region (said to be the world’s busiest highway).
SNC-Lavalin is part of the “407EDG” public-private consortium that designed and built the 407 East Phase, along with Cintra Infraestructuras S.A. The consortium also financed the project and will maintain it for the next 30 years on behalf of the Ontario Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure Ontario.
The project involved building a highway of four to six lanes, with 11 interchanges and more than 70 structures such as bridges and culverts. Over 147 hectares of forests, meadows and wetland are being restored, with native trees, nesting habitat, etc. Some of this restoration is beside 12 watercourses.
Bridges along the highway are embossed with decorative motifs on their parapet walls and abutment walls. For example, the Baldwin Street bridge has wheatsheaf imagery acknowledging the local farming community. The Simcoe Street bridge in Oshawa has symbols important to the Anishinabek people, such as the Turtle representing Turtle Island, and the medicine wheel with seven feathers.
By 2017 the next phase of Highway 407 from Harmony Road to Taunton Road/Highway 418 will be open to traffic. And by 2020 the last stretch to Highway 35/115, and Highway 418 are scheduled to open, completing the project.
Although connected to the private Highway 407 ETR, the new Highway 407 is a separate entity owned and operated by the Province of Ontario. For the first months the newest section of Highway 407 will be free to users. However, it will eventually be a toll road, with the revenues going to the Ontario government.