Mid-peninsula highway's fate in hands of incoming transportation minister

Burlington Post 11/05/03

The next twist or turn in the mid-peninsula highway saga will likely come from the new transportation minister.

Harinder Takhar of Mississauga has that role after the Liberals defeated the Progressive Conservative government in the recent provincial election.

Takhar will have to decide what future action is taken on the mid-peninsula project, said Will MacKenzie, a ministry information officer.

The controversial mid-peninsula project includes a proposed highway between Fort Erie and Hamilton/Halton.

Burlington mayor Rob MacIsaac and Ted McMeekin, the MPP for Ancaster-Dundas-Flamborough-Aldershot both said recently they expect the Liberal government to commit to a full Environmental Assessment.

Following a lawsuit by Burlington and Halton, the Conservative-led ministry recently withdrew a previous environment assessment (EA) to make revisions.

Local politicians have sought an EA terms of reference that would provide protection from cuts to the Niagara Escarpment and include consideration of rail and transit alternatives.

An advisory group of stakeholders was also sought for the project.

Burlington and Halton were close to an agreement with the previous transportation minister, but it was put on hold because of the provincial election.

Burlington officials fear the proposed highway will connect to Hwy. 407 near Walker's Line. Other possible linkups include an expanded Hwy. 403 on Hamilton Mountain, Hwy. 401 west of Milton and Hwy. 6 in Flamborough.

Ministry officials have described the project as the mid-peninsula transportation corridor and say it could include a new highway, transit way or both.

They have warned a highway may be needed to serve major increases forecast for population and traffic growth between Toronto and Niagara.

Critics say the highway will be a toll road costing more than $1 billion that will damage the environment while failing to alleviate traffic congestion.



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