Ford government plans to expand Highway 401 to 3 lanes across eastern Ontario

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Ford government plans to expand Highway 401 to three lanes across Eastern Ontario
The proposed widening of the highway also includes a new interchange in Belleville to deter transport trucks from driving through the city – May 2, 2022

It’s the busiest highway in North America, and it’s slated for a facelift.

As part of the 2022 budget, the Ford government is promising to add a third lane for both east and westbound Highway 401 in eastern Ontario.

Read more: Ontario budget projects larger deficit, billions for infrastructure ahead of election

“Adding those lanes on either side, going to six lanes all the way across, I think will make it easier,” says Bay of Quinte MPP Todd Smith.

“Certainly it will make it safer. You’ll have the trucks, hopefully, mostly on the two right lanes, and have passenger vehicles being able to travel on the inside lane.”

Belleville is one of the fastest-growing cities in the province and also sits in the heart of the Montreal-Toronto corridor.

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This expansion will allow the city to grow, both residentially and commercially.

“It allows us to grow,” says Belleville Mayor Mitch Panciuk.

“The industrial park we’re almost at full capacity. We’re going to have to grow farther to the east, and this allows that to happen.”

One way that allows it to happen is the Belleville East Arterial Route, a proposed new interchange just east of the Cannifton Road exit.

This new exit would take heavy trucks away from residential roads and divert them straight to the industrial park.

Read more: Highway 401 bridges over Grand River to be replaced over next several years

“Cannifton Road is not an industrial road,” says Panciuk.

“It’s got residential, it’s got commercial on it. It’s really important for us to get transport trucks off of it.”

But it appears this expansion isn’t a done deal.

With the announcement coming close to election time, it seems that the Progressive Conservatives are banking on re-election to get this expansion done.

“If you want to see the four-lane highway turned into a six-lane highway, and things like the new interchange in Belleville happen, it seems like there’s only one party you can count on to get those types of projects done,” says Smith

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Environmental impact studies are now underway, and Smith says shovels could be in the ground in the next couple of years.

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