Highway 407 ETR – www.OntHighways.com
Highway 407 is Ontario’s newest, and without doubt most controversial 400-series highway. The highway stretches from the QEW/403 interchange in Burlington easterly around Toronto to Highway 7 just east of Brougham. The highway is operated privately by a consortium of companies known as Highway 407 International. This consortium has leased Highway 407 for a term of 99 years, and generates its revenue through toll collection. Tolls are collected electronically, allowing Highway 407 to operate as a ‘barrier-free’ highway, free of toll-booths. For more information on Highway 407 and for tolling information and rates, please visit Highway 407’s Official website.
Western Terminus: At the Freeman Interchange in Burlington, junction Highway 403 & QEW
Eastern Terminus: Highway 7 near Brougham in the City of Pickering
Freeway: Entire Length. (38 interchanges)
Tolling Rates: Tolling information and rates are available from Highway 407’s official website here
Road Info: Highway 407 is maintained impeccably well (as it should be considering the expensive tolls). Congestion is rare along the highway as Highway 407 International has been very aggressive in widening the highway to keep pace with steady traffic growth. Like most other 400-series highways in Ontario, Highway 407 has a posted 100km/h speed limit.
History of Highway 407:
Planning for this highway first started in the 1950s when traffic congestion first crippled Highway 401 through Toronto. The extensive reconstruction of Highway 401 through Toronto to a 12-lane facility deminished the need for Highway 407 until congestion again slowed Highway 401 to a crawl throughout much of the GTA in the 1980s. In the late 1980s construction started on the first stage of Highway 407 which at that point was to run from Highway 427 in western Vaughan to Highway 7 just east of Centre Street in Thornhill. Due to budget constraints work was halted during Bob Rae’s term as Ontario’s premiere, and the highway was re-evaluated. In order to speed up construction in 1993 the Rae government sought to construct Highway 407 in conjunction with the private sector. The highway was to be operated as a toll road for a 35 year term by a private company under the supervision of the Ontario government. This public-private partnership allowed construction to progress much quicker then had been previously possible, and on June 7th, 1997 the first stretch of Highway 407 opened from Highway 410 to Highway 404. Unfortunately this opening was plagued with problems, the highway was opened six months behind schedule amid serious safety concerns. Problems also delayed tolling, which didn’t begin until October 14th, 1997. This delay was due to apparent problems with the all-electronic tolling system.
On December 13th, 1997 the first extension was opened to traffic from Highway 410 westerly to Highway 401 near Winston Churchill Boulevard. The first easterly extension opened in opened on February 18th, 1998 from Highway 404 easterly to McCowan Road in Markham. On September 4th of that same year another westerly extension opened which saw Highway 407 extended to the Highway 403 interchange in Mississauga. The last extension to be completed under the then-current lease-agreement was opened to traffic on June 24th, 1999 between McCowan and Markham Roads in Markham. The opening of this stretch of highway had been delayed since 1998 due to concerns of added traffic through Markham village along Highway 48.
Later in 1999, details of the lease were significantly changed, giving much more control to the operators of Highway 407. As part of this agreement, the lease was extended from 35 to 99-years, and the government lost all rights to regulate toll increases. As part of this deal, the operators of Highway 407 were contractually obligated to complete the west extension to the QEW, and the east partial extension to Highway 7 east of Brougham. The west extension was originally conceived as part of Highway 403 and was to by-pass the QEW to the north of the urban portions of Oakville and Burlington. This stretch of highway opened in three stages between June 7th, 2001 and July 18th, 2001. The east extension was completed roughly three moths ahead of schedule and opened August 30th, 2001. Three major lane widenings have taken place since that time to keep pace with traffic demands. Highway 407 was widened from six to eight lanes between Highways 427 and 400 in 2003, and was widened from four to six lanes between Highways 401 and 10 in the summer of 2004. During the 2005 and 2006 construction seasons the Central section of Highway 407 between Highways 427 and 404 was widened from six to eight lanes. Advance work is also ongoing to widen the portion of Highway westerly from Highway 427 to west of Highway 410. This work will likely be completed during the Fall of 2007.
Presently the MTO is in the planning stages of extending Highway 407 east from Brougham to the junctions of Highway 35 and 115 at Enterprise Hill. No construction timetables have been established for this highway, and construction is likely at least a decade away since this stretch of highway has been stalled in the environmental assessment stage.