Written by by Erynne Versteeg, CNN
The off-ramp is temporary, a temporary fix, but one that Doug Ford (center) hopes will permanently solve traffic woes on the GTHA. Credit: Carlos Osorio/Toronto Star via Getty Images
It’s a temporary, yet temporary fix — a new year-round off-ramp opened up Thursday to relieve congestion on the Toronto portion of Highway 417.
Work began on the GTHA off-ramp around Halloween and ended early on Thursday morning. The four-lane off-ramp can currently accommodate cars traveling from the Old City Hall area, and those coming in from Metcalfe Avenue.
It’s a far cry from the original project to build a four-lane highway up a slope in the outer reaches of the Greater Toronto Area. But the news didn’t come as a surprise to local government planners or some of the residents that would have to deal with it.
“We had traffic rerouted from the side roads on to the highway, so this is just a delay,” said Yvonne Tyler-Williams, the deputy mayor of Toronto.
This is the original plan for a four-lane highway over a hazardous slope. Credit: Douglas Mills/The Canadian Press/Pool via CNN
Though construction on the project was halted for three years, Toronto’s Ford family — the head of which maintains a close and persistent grip on the city’s municipal government — came up with a new idea.
“The first time I heard the idea was from Doug Ford’s friend Nick Kouvalis, and from there I was able to see it.”
Former Toronto mayoral candidate Nick Kouvalis promoted Doug Ford’s plan and brought in alternate visions for the GTHA. Credit: Rachel Murray/The Canadian Press/Pool via CNN
Ford proposed that the stretch of freeway be built over a ramp built that slopes gently upwards instead. Although it doesn’t technically do away with the danger that could threaten drivers heading north on Highway 417, the ramp removes one factor that could cause a catastrophic crash.