NEWS ITEM – Speed limit on highway 17 east of Thunder Bay will remain at 90 clicks even after it is four lanes, after all it will still be ‘just a highway’, not a freeway.
Just a highway? Like the rural ones that cross-cross old Ontario so you can drive directly from every town to every other town, without having to go out of your way at all, all built and maintained to a higher standard than ours? Political highways, built to buy votes and carrying all of 7 non-local vehicles a day?
This is not ‘just a highway’. It is the TransCanada highway, one of the longest highways in the world, connecting our country from coast to coast. It is treated with the respect it deserves in the other provinces, built to the highest standard in the province, without worrying about ‘traffic counts’, and in fact emblazoned ‘highway number ONE’.
But Ontario says it is ‘just a highway’. After all, we sniff, it is just a rural road serving those few ragged rednecks that inexplicably want to inhabit northern Ontario, land of ice and snow (even though we are six hundred miles south of Edmonton, a provincial capital, and south of fully half of all the farmland in Canada). Even a token effort to bring it up to the standards of 50 years ago is way too much, witness the skinny little one foot paved shoulders that cross-country bikers, hikers, walkers, skateboarders risk their lives on.
Some of us remember when the speed limit was 60 miles per hour (100k). That was the maximum, and one was expected to exercise good common sense and respect and only drive that fast in ideal circumstances. It was reduced in the 70’s to save fuel, which it might have done then, but modern vehicles are tuned to run their best at about 110 k, so there is little fuel saved in going 90. Worse, traffic moves at about 110 on the highway now in any weather conditions, if you dawdle along at 90, the legal limit, you are a traffic hazard.
Given our long distances and sparse population, our highway speed limit ought to be more than in the high-traffic south, not less because of some arbitrary definition of ‘highway’.
The Ontario Truckers Association estimates that 70% (!!!) of the truck traffic to and from eastern to western Canada goes through the United states, precisely to avoid the sub-standard road Ontario laughingly calls the TransCanada Highway. We are now embroiled in planning a better bridge to Detroit, in large part to carry this traffic to and from western Canada, and even worse, Ontario is badgering the federal government to put Ontario’s share of federal TransCanada subsidy money (which is never all spent) toward that bridge!
How much tax revenue is lost to the US by this unseemly diversion of traffic? How much economic activity is denied northern Ontario? How many northerners are ready to join my Northern Ontario Separatist party? (just thought I would throw that in). And that’s the Contrarian view.