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Old March 18th, 2011, 09:32 PM   #2061
Haljackey
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New Windsor-Essex Parkway signs erected along Highway 3 in Windsor:

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Propaganda much?
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Old March 22nd, 2011, 06:34 PM   #2062
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Ontario could save $1B, says sell-off guru
Highway 407 insider demands pay for advice, including deputy minister's job until death
22 March 2011
The Toronto Star

The architect of the $3.1 billion privatization of Hwy. 407 says an additional $1 billion could be returned to Ontarians in reduced tolls and property taxes if the provincial government were willing to act.

Jodie Parmar, former vice-president of the Ontario government's privatization secretariat and a key player in the City of Toronto's sell-off of Union Station, has spent more than a year trying to pitch Queen's Park on a novel money-saving scheme.

But Parmar's innovative proposal has been received with skepticism - despite Premier Dalton McGuinty's Liberals facing an $18.7 billion budget deficit and lagging in public opinion polls with an election set for Oct. 6.

"They're not interested," the internationally known privatization expert told the Star in an interview in Toronto.

"Where is the suggestion box that would allow the people of Ontario to come forward to the government with ways to improve the delivery of government services?"

At issue is that Parmar, who now runs his own firm, expects to be paid handsomely for his advice.

On March 11, he was informed by government lawyers that they "are not amenable to any of your proposed compensation arrangements" though they would be pleased to study his scheme.

Chris Morley, McGuinty's chief of staff, said he would be willing to meet with Parmar to discuss his plan but for the unusual demands for payment.

"We're prepared to sit down with him. His requests, including a job until death as a deputy minister or an appointment to an Ontario hydro organization, are just not the way the government conducts business," said Morley.

Parmar counters that he was just trying to offer a creative compensation solution.

"I'm a private consultant. (Payment is) contingent upon it working. I'm not saying pay me in advance and I'll just give them a box of Cheerios. Your lawyers, your experts, have to tell you that this (plan) will work."

The impasse raises questions about the obligations of former public officials and how much governments should be willing to compensate them for their expertise - especially when potentially large savings are at stake.

Parmar's initial proposal is to collect 2.5 per cent of anything he finds, a percentage he likens to a real estate agent's fee on a house purchase.

So if he identified an additional $1 billion that could be returned from 407 International Inc. to Ontario taxpayers in reduced tolls, municipal property tax revenues and other fees, he would receive $25 million.

While he emphasizes he is willing to be flexible on compensation and would accept far less - including a lifetime posting as a deputy minister or a hydro board appointment - he noted that the $1 billion is money the province might otherwise never see.

"That's the frustrating part. Give me the time of day. I'm very credible," he said, laughing, before pointing out he also helped former Toronto mayor David Miller with the $640 million Union Station revitalization deal.

Expressing surprise that government lawyers and advisers have yet to discover the loopholes allowing the province to control tolls and force the 407 company to pay more property taxes to municipalities bordering the highway, Parmar is reluctant to divulge his secret.

But he confided that buried in the 15-centimetre thick privatization contract and the 1999 provincial legislation that enabled it are little-known sections favourable to Queen's Park.

"There is a clause between the governing agreements and the legislation that ... would allow the province to change the rules of the game without compensation," said Parmar.

"It's somewhat arcane, but there is a very specific section that talks about the government and 407 sitting down and talking every five years and talking about what needs to change," he said, declining to elaborate.

"This is based upon my informed interpretation, upon my knowledge of the governing agreements and the legislation that are in the public domain and not any confidential information."

Parmar stressed that 407 International - owned by Spain's Cintra Infraestructuras SA, the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, and SNC-Lavalin - is unlikely to accept any new terms because it would cost the company valuable revenue.

"Let's face it, whatever the government does is going to get litigated," he said.

Indeed, 407 International vice-president Kevin Sack pointed out that disputes over tolls have been resolved since the company's successful 2006 settlement of a legal action filed by the McGuinty administration.

"We have closely examined the agreement and legislation and continue to be confident that the company operates in compliance with all agreements and legislation," said Sack. "The agreement has been the subject of legal reviews in the past and all matters were settled appropriately in 2006."

Court records show Parmar testified as an expert witness for 407 International in that case.

In August 1998, at the behest of then Progressive Conservative premier Mike Harris, Parmar spearheaded the sell-off of the electronic tollway north of Toronto. The $3.1 billion agreement for a 99-year lease was concluded in May 1999.

While he maintains it was a good deal for the Ontario treasury, motorists have complained about soaring tolls and administrative fees.

It now costs between 19.35 cents and 22.95 cents per kilometre for a passenger car depending on the hour of day plus a flat 50 cent per trip charge. There's also an annual transponder lease fee of $21.50 or a $3.65 per trip video toll charge for those without an electronic collector.

When McGuinty took office in 2003 his government went to court to try to roll back tolls, but was forced to settle in 2006.

Last week, Transportation Minister Kathleen Wynne announced that Highway 407 would be extended to Highway 35/115 outside Peterborough by 2020, and that the province - not a private company - would reap the benefits of tolls.
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Old March 24th, 2011, 01:02 AM   #2063
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Here's a vision of some signs showing what Veteran's Memorial Parkway could look like one day.














The route would also be extended south towards St. Thomas and could even possibly hook up with the St. Thomas Expressway (Ontario Highway #3)



Additions to the envisioned collector/express system along Highway 401 in London:



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Last edited by Haljackey; March 24th, 2011 at 01:13 AM.
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Old March 25th, 2011, 01:31 AM   #2064
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Cool video of Highway 407 ETR from it's western terminus to Vaughan, a suburb north of Toronto.



http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aTT1POy1NV0
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Old March 25th, 2011, 04:17 AM   #2065
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Cool Video.

Thanks for all the updates in Ontario!

That video reminded me or a video I did just after the Golden Ears way / Bridge (Maple Ridge to Surrey) opened in Metro Vancouver.

The highway portion of this project is from the 1 minute mark to the end and the expressway free flow portion is from the 1 minute mark to the 2:40 mark.



PS - This video sure makes me miss summer driving, haha!
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Old March 25th, 2011, 05:49 AM   #2066
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Metro One View Post
PS - This video sure makes me miss summer driving, haha!
Cheers to that!
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Old March 27th, 2011, 06:47 PM   #2067
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Metro One View Post
Cool Video.

Thanks for all the updates in Ontario!

That video reminded me or a video I did just after the Golden Ears way / Bridge (Maple Ridge to Surrey) opened in Metro Vancouver.

The highway portion of this project is from the 1 minute mark to the end and the expressway free flow portion is from the 1 minute mark to the 2:40 mark.

PS - This video sure makes me miss summer driving, haha!
What is the soundtrack of your video? I like it.
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Old March 27th, 2011, 09:05 PM   #2068
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Metro One View Post
Cool Video.

Thanks for all the updates in Ontario!

That video reminded me or a video I did just after the Golden Ears way / Bridge (Maple Ridge to Surrey) opened in Metro Vancouver.

The highway portion of this project is from the 1 minute mark to the end and the expressway free flow portion is from the 1 minute mark to the 2:40 mark.



PS - This video sure makes me miss summer driving, haha!
Why did they make that dip in the highway around the 2:40 mark? Why didn't they just keep it elevated until after the hill. Horrible design
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Old March 30th, 2011, 03:03 AM   #2069
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Two view's of Highway 403 in Mississauga, shot before my camera was stolen on the weekend...


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Old March 30th, 2011, 06:37 AM   #2070
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Wow awesome, awesome pic! I really liked the latest update on your site of the Highway 400 extension too!

Really sad to hear about your camera. What make was it? Do you have any idea where it was stolen?
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Old March 30th, 2011, 02:00 PM   #2071
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Quote:
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Really sad to hear about your camera. What make was it? Do you have any idea where it was stolen?
It was a Canon 60D with an 18-200mm lens, somebody broke into my car over the weekend at the Finch Subway station and nabbed it.

And thank you, I am glad you liked the update. The Highway 400 extension is really well built.
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Old March 30th, 2011, 10:03 PM   #2072
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sonysnob View Post
It was a Canon 60D with an 18-200mm lens, somebody broke into my car over the weekend at the Finch Subway station and nabbed it.

And thank you, I am glad you liked the update. The Highway 400 extension is really well built.
Geesh that's a brand new model! So sorry to hear about that... These long exposure shots of Mississauga are amazing.

By the way, if you want to use some of my photos on your site, go right ahead. I just uploaded several high-res shots of Highway 401, 402 and Highbury Avenue in London on my Flickr account. (http://www.flickr.com/photos/haljackey)
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Old March 31st, 2011, 01:36 AM   #2073
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I'll keep that in mind, thanks for the offer. The photos are certainly good enough, but I am pretty well stocked for London's freeways. I am not working on anything around London right now though, right now I am working on a mountain road in California.
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Old April 7th, 2011, 04:50 AM   #2074
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Debating the ‘asphalt arrow’
April 06, 2011
Toronto Star
Donovan Vincent



A rallying cry has gone up as long-dormant plans for a highway linking the Niagara Peninsula to the western GTA are being resurrected.

On one side: Proponents who say a mid-peninsula highway will spur economic growth. On the other: Opponents who argue it will be an environmental disaster that destroys a swath of the precious Niagara Escarpment ecosystem.

Nicknamed the “mid-pen corridor,’’ the 400-series highway favoured by the provincial Conservatives would link Fort Erie or Niagara Falls directly to Hamilton, connecting from there to the 401, 403 or 407. As an alternative to the congested QEW, it could arguably offer a big improvement to cross-border traffic.

“We cannot create the kinds of jobs we’re going to need for our sons and daughters if we don’t build our infrastructure to take advantage of trade and tourism,’’ says provincial Tory leader Tim Hudak, (MPP, Niagara West-Glanbrook), adding that, if elected this fall, he’d make the highway a priority.

Hudak has led the charge to resurrect a project that almost came to fruition in the Mike Harris government a decade ago, arguing it’s vital to business in the western GTA and Niagara/Hamilton regions.

But environmentalists, community groups, the Burlington Chamber of Commerce, Burlington’s city council and others in Halton Region staunchly oppose it, largely over concerns about degrading the Escarpment.

They don’t dispute the need, just the type of transportation network.

“A very workable solution is (new) railways,’’ says Geoff Brock, a spokesperson with the Stop Escarpment Highway Coalition, a Halton alliance that includes a residents’ association, a community group and environmental organizations together claiming a membership of 4,000.

“A railway is one-tenth the size of a highway, and has much bigger capacity (to transport passengers),’’ Brock adds.

The issue was flung back into the limelight last October, when the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing recommended amendments to Halton Region’s official plan.

The documents included a map on which the ministry drew a large black arrow over a section of north Burlington. Dubbed the “asphalt arrow,” that mark raised the spectre of a swath of pavement slicing through the Escarpment and valuable farmland before linking with Highway 407.

“That caught everyone by surprise,’’ says Brock. It soon became the focus for a renewed battle in an anti-highway war residents thought was long over.

The asphalt arrow is just one of the latest incarnations of a project that was a priority in 2001. That’s when the Conservative government announced it would go ahead with a new four-lane highway across the Niagara gateway. The $1.2 billion, 130-kilometre road would have been completed by this year.

An environmental impact study was launched, but opposition grew among Burlington farmers and residents concerned about the impact on wetlands and fragile plant and animal populations.

Soon after the provincial Liberals came to power in 2003, the mid-pen plan was shelved.

By 2006 another environmental study had been launched, but there was a new name in play: the Niagara-to-GTA corridor. A provincial report highlighted the need for some sort of solution.

“Forecasts indicate that by 2031, there will be a large east-west capacity deficiency between the Niagara Peninsula and the GTA for the movement of both people and goods,” the introductory report says. “The existing transportation network is not capable of supporting the projected growth in population, employment, trade and tourism.’’

Premier Dalton McGuinty’s government has stepped back from insisting that a highway is the only option, instead pushing a “multi-modal’’ hybrid project. Just a concept at this stage, it calls for strategic widening or improvements along the QEW, coupled with rail expansion and two new roads, one linking Fort Erie to Highway 406 near Welland, the other linking the 403 to the 407 near Burlington.

A draft strategy for the corridor plan is expected this spring.
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Old April 8th, 2011, 06:05 AM   #2075
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I could see Highway 420 getting extended to meet up with Highway 406. That would provide a bypass of the QEW in St. Cathrine's and Niagria for those traveling to Fort Erie to cross into the US of A. I think this route is a little more direct too.

Everything else is pending weather or not this mid-peninsula highway will get built. It's certainly become an election issue and I think it's fate will be decided by the next provincial government.
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Old April 9th, 2011, 12:55 AM   #2076
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This announcement seems like such an election stunt. Neither of these highways are going to be built in the next decade.

On approach to Downtown Hamilton, Highway 403:


Still in Hamilton, the QEW at Burlington Street:
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Last edited by sonysnob; April 9th, 2011 at 06:33 PM. Reason: added another photo
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Old April 12th, 2011, 07:37 AM   #2077
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The Trans-Canada Highway at Rogers Pass in British Colombia. Truly one of the most magnificent drives in the country.

image hosted on flickr

Rogers Pass South by bulliver, on Flickr

Full size: http://www.flickr.com/photos/badcomputer/3719523630/
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Old April 13th, 2011, 05:01 AM   #2078
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^ Beautiful pick. I had a look at that guy's photostream, he has some nice pics of Vancouver. Vancouver is practically a city of glass. I like it, a lot of the buildings have a really nice look to them.
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Old April 13th, 2011, 08:10 AM   #2079
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^ Beautiful pick. I had a look at that guy's photostream, he has some nice pics of Vancouver. Vancouver is practically a city of glass. I like it, a lot of the buildings have a really nice look to them.
Yeah he has some great shots. I found a some of his road photos on Skyscraperpage's Canadian highways thread. (http://forum.skyscraperpage.com/show...9&postcount=11)

Nice shots of Highway 403 and QEW in Hamilton by the way. I used to always use these roads to travel to Niagara Falls. However since the Red Hill Valley Parkway opened I use it and the Linc to bypass these routes, and it cuts about 20 mins off my drive!
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Old April 14th, 2011, 12:27 AM   #2080
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Highway 401: The Macdonald–Cartier Freeway in Dorchester, Ontario.



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Photos by me

The freeway descends and cuts right through the Dorchester Swamp. If the 401 was built today it would certainly be built around the wetland area.

Also the Don Valley Parkway in Toronto wouldn't be built if it were by today's standards. :
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