427 extension

New Toronto highway could apparently remain off-limits to drivers until next year

The Highway 427 extension in Toronto has been ready for drivers for months, but has yet to actually open to the public — and apparently won't for some time.

The $616-million project tacked an additional 6.6 km onto the thoroughfare, which now reaches up to Major Mackenzie Drive in Vaughan and has also been widened to up to eight lanes in parts.

But the new portion of the freeway has sat completely empty and unused since its completion in the fall due to an ongoing disagreement between LINK427, the construction consortium that built it, and the Province of Ontario.

The former actually took the latter to court in April due to the fact that the government still allegedly owes the consortium nearly $300 million, including the final installment of money owed for the work rendered, as well as additional unexpected costs.

But, Infrastructure Ontario and the Ministry of Transportation has said that the roadway was not built to the specs outlined in the contract between the stakeholders, which has led to some quality and safety concerns that could cause issues with water drainage and pooling.

LINK427 did commission an independent road safety audit that it says proved that the extension was safe and okay to open.

As such, it is now accusing the government of stalling to avoid paying up — but the ministry and Infrastructure Ontario say that they won't do so until the road is proven to meet all agreed upon requirements, and apparently the audit is not enough.

New court documents suggest that the legal dispute could continue on long enough to delay the opening until sometime in 2022, per the CBC, if additional work is needed to bring the extension up to par — potentially up to two years after initially planned.

Drivers have even started launching petitions to get the road opened, saying they've been "anxiously and patiently waiting" for the many times-delayed opening and are sick of being caught in the middle between the aforementioned parties.

"We all want the highway to be safe for all users, but the circumstances surrounding the allegations seem spurious...  If the provincial government is simply posturing to delay payment, PLEASE STOP impeding progress and allow the opening of the highway," one such appeal reads.

"If there truly is a safety issue with the construction of the highway, then both sides please have some integrity, in everyone's interest, please rectify the issues at once, come to an agreement, and open the highway extension as soon as possible."

As the debacle continues, traffic congestion in the GTA will only continue to ramp up as people return to work and play while the province gradually returns to something near-normal this summer.

Lead photo by

Adam Moss

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