Pilot Project Raises Speed Limits On Some Ontario Highways

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TORONTO:  A pilot project that will see a slight bump in speed limits on some of Ontario’s highways will go into effect later this week, the province’s transportation minister said Tuesday.

Caroline Mulroney said the new rules, meant to bring Ontario in line with some other provinces, will take effect on three stretches of highway beginning on Thursday. The change, which will see speed limits increase from 100 to 110 kilometres per hour in the designated pilot project areas, was announced in May along with government plans to hold public consultations into highway speeds.

“A limit of 110 kilometres per hour is higher than Ontario’s speed limit for the past generation,’’ Mulroney said while announcing the launch of the pilot project. “But it is aligned with other provinces across Canada.’’

Six other provinces currently have posted speed limits of at least 110 kilometres per hour on some of their highways: Alberta introduced a 110 kilometre per hour speed limit on some highways in 1993, Nova Scotia made a similar move in 1997 and New Brunswick followed suit in 2001.

Certain divided multi-lane highways in British Columbia have speed limits of 120 kilometres per hour, the highest permitted speeds in the country.

Mulroney said the higher limit also marks a return to a pace last used on Ontario roads in 1975, before higher oil prices and less fuel-efficient cars prompted a decrease in highway speeds. The area covered by the pilot encompasses more than 200 kilometres of highway in busy travel corridors, Mulroney said.

They include a 90-kilometre stretch of Highway 402 between London and Sarnia, 32 kilometres of the Queen Elizabeth Way between St. Catharines and Hamilton, and the 102 kilometres of Highway 417 between Ottawa and the Quebec border. Mulroney said those specific routes were well-suited to the pilot project.

“There’s not much work that’s required on these particular stretches of highway’’ she said. “There’s enough room between the interchanges … and we also worked closely with our law enforcement partners.’’

Mulroney said safety will remain a top concern throughout the pilot, noting signs and extra cautions will be posted in the designated zones.