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Thread: Toronto's 401: busiest freeway in North America

  1. #1
    Cyburbian
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    Toronto's 401: busiest freeway in North America

    Pictures below, first some facts from Wikipedia.

    The 401 is widely considered to be North America's busiest highway, with an estimated Annual Average Daily Traffic (AADT) of over 425,000 in 2004, near the interchange with Highway 400. Due to its triple use as the main trade, commuting and recreational corridor in Ontario, the AADT rises to well beyond the 500,000 level on some days. The highway has 12-20 lanes through Pickering to Mississauga and this is thought to be the world's longest continuous stretch of highway having 12 or more lanes.



















  2. #2
    Cyburbian mgk920's avatar
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    How does this compare to the Dan Ryan Expressway (I-90/94) by Comiskey Park in Chicago, which at one time (likely in the 1980s) was considered to be the World's busiest highway? This section has a 3-4-4-3 local/express setup (14 through lanes).

    Also, any ideas of how much less traffic ON 401 would be carrying today if some of the other planned east-west metro Toronto freeways (ie, the never-built one along Eglinton Av and the eastern Gardiner) were built?

    Mike

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    Cyburbian Greenescapist's avatar
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    It just can't be the busiest highway in North America. I know Toronto is big, but what about Chicago's expressways or LA, Houston, NYC.... they are all bigger places.

    Wikipedia is cobbled together by people on the Internet. While it might be a fairly good resource, it's by no means full of undisputable facts.

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    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Greenescapist
    It just can't be the busiest highway in North America. I know Toronto is big, but what about Chicago's expressways or LA, Houston, NYC.... they are all bigger places.
    Expressways around the NYC area were mostly built in the 1950s, and they aren't that wide; usually six lanes, or maybe eight in a few places.

    LA has a lot of ten lane (dual five lane carriageway) expressways, but no true local/express configuration that I can think of.

    Texas expressways might look huge -- TXDOT loves concrete, and they love their frontage roads -- but again, there's nothing over ten lanes, excepting dome double decker freeways in San Antonio and Austin.

    I-271 near me is 3-2-2-3, and 4-2-2-4 in some places, but there's seldom heavy traffic; the road handles rish hour quite nicely. I-271 even has an official song - The Pretenders' "My City was Gone."

    Even at 12 to 16 lanes, I've still experienced traffic jams on the 401 that are several kilometers long. Think about it: 16 lanes, and still LOS F.
    Growth for growth's sake is the ideology of the cancer cell. -- Edward Abbey

  5. #5
    Cyburbian Greenescapist's avatar
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    Yeah, that makes sense. I'm wrong. I lived in DC for a couple of years and the Beltline there is 8 lanes, 270 starts out at 10 lanes, I think- but then there are two other main highways into VA. So, if Toronto has that highway as its major spine, then it would make sense. What about Atlanta? Or, maybe it's set up like DC, big area, lots of different paved routes.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian AubieTurtle's avatar
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    Some of the roads in Atlanta look bigger but that may just be an optical illusion since the express/local division of the 401 breaks things up.

    I75 north of I285 currently has 16 lanes and will soon expand to 18 with the HOV lanes (how could anything be built out to 16 lanes without an HOV?). I don't know the traffic numbers. I'm sure they are somewhere between 200k and 400k, which would still keep 401 ahead.

    And yes, it is quite weird to drive on an interstate so wide when everyone is doing 80-90MPH.
    As democracy is perfected, the office of president represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart's desire at last and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron. - H.L. Mencken

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    Cyburbian mgk920's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Dan
    Expressways around the NYC area were mostly built in the 1950s, and they aren't that wide; usually six lanes, or maybe eight in a few places.

    LA has a lot of ten lane (dual five lane carriageway) expressways, but no true local/express configuration that I can think of.

    Texas expressways might look huge -- TXDOT loves concrete, and they love their frontage roads -- but again, there's nothing over ten lanes, excepting dome double decker freeways in San Antonio and Austin.

    I-271 near me is 3-2-2-3, and 4020204 in some places, but there's seldom heavy traffic; the road handles rish hour quite nicely. I-271 even has an official song - The Pretenders' "My City was Gone."

    Even at 12 to 16 lanes, I've still experienced traffic jams on the 401 that are several kilometers long. Think about it: 16 lanes, and still LOS F.
    The Katy Freeway (I-10) in the west Houston area is about to get a Texas-sized makover, I'm not even sure how many lanes it will get nor in what configuration, but I have heard well over 20.



    BTW, I have driven all of I-271, too. Light traffic when I was on it, it made me wonder why all of the asphalt.

    Mike

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    Cyburbian boiker's avatar
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    The Kennedy (I-90) in Chicago has a max AADT of 315,000 and the Dan Ryan (I-90/94) 314,000 according to 2003 IDOT data.

    The highest any road in my community is 61,000 ...it's a 4 lane highway. Currently, being upgraded to 6 lanes.
    Dude, I'm cheesing so hard right now.

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    Cyburbian
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    The official 401 numbers can be found below, the data is alittle old but it gives a generally idea.

    The Toronto 401 stats start around page 54.
    http://www.ronenhouse.com/__85256B7C...002%20AADT.pdf
    Last edited by Copper; 04 May 2005 at 12:53 AM.

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    Cyburbian jmello's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Dan
    Expressways around the NYC area were mostly built in the 1950s, and they aren't that wide; usually six lanes, or maybe eight in a few places.
    What about the NJ approach to the GW Bridge? That has local and express roadways. It was my understanding that the NJ Turnpike was the busiest American freeway. It has separate car and truck carriageways (IIRC, 12-14 totals lanes) for tens of miles.

    The fact book below claims that the turnpike has an ADT of 560,473 and as many as 14 lanes in places.

    See:
    http://www.state.nj.us/turnpike/tpbook.pdf

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    Cyburbian DetroitPlanner's avatar
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    I would not be surprised that the 401 would be the busiest. Freeways are rare in Ontario when compared to the United States. The 401 serves as a way to move goods from Mexico, Detroit and Buffalo to places East (an vice-versa). It is the only through E-W freeway in Toronto. Freeways in Canada are not centered on moving people away from cities in all directions, but rather seen as bypasses. 401 has become increasingly suburbanized so it is not only the primary trade route, the only route for through traffic, but also used for local traffic.

    If you compare Metropolitan Toronto and Metro Detroit, both are about the same size, but the Detroit freeway system clearly has many more miles than the Tornoto one. This may lead one to wonder if the building of freeways actually accellerated the downfall of Detroit's neighborhoods.

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    Cyburbian The One's avatar
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    well......

    Broward County Florida's busy section of I-95 has about 320k(est.) AADT...... A 6-8 lane freeway!!!! LA MUST HAVE a segment that is worse than anything in Canada.....How about Mexico City?
    Skilled Adoxographer

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    Cyburbian
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    LA doesnt have any highways as wide as the 401 I dont think, the Santa Monica Freeway is the closest to the 401 in NA I believe but I could be wrong. I dont know about Mexico though. The 401 is as wide as they come and still faces traffic jams and the like, so I dont know many that compare.

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    Cyburbian donk's avatar
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    For real time images of the 401 check out

    http://www.mto.gov.on.ca/english/tra...ra/camhome.htm

    When I am going north to work, the queue to get on the 401 in the morning is approximately 5 km long at 4-6 lanes for the majority of the way.

    Personally, I avoid it like the plague, I've had it take me almost 2 hours to go less than 25 km on it.
    Too lazy to beat myself up for being to lazy to beat myself up for being too lazy to... well you get the point....

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    Cyburbian the north omaha star's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Greenescapist
    Yeah, that makes sense. I'm wrong. I lived in DC for a couple of years and the Beltline there is 8 lanes, 270 starts out at 10 lanes, I think- but then there are two other main highways into VA. So, if Toronto has that highway as its major spine, then it would make sense. What about Atlanta? Or, maybe it's set up like DC, big area, lots of different paved routes.

    The highest ADTs on the Beltway are at I-495/MD 97 (Georgia Avenue) in Silver Spring at 220,000 and at the the Woodrow Wilson Bridge in Prince George's County at 175,000.
    I am recognizing that the voice inside my head
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  16. #16
    Toronto has massive transportation infrastructure, both highway and public transit. I guess there's not much of a "live near your work" movement there...

  17. #17
    Cyburbian thestip's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by donk
    Personally, I avoid it like the plague, I've had it take me almost 2 hours to go less than 25 km on it.
    Ditto. Whenever I head up to Barrie to visit my cousin I bite the bullet and take the 407 ETR. I'd rather eat the toll than even attempt to get anywhere near the 401 in Toronto. Last time I took the 401 in TO was several years ago on the way from Chicago to Toronto on a Monday afternoon. I hit traffic in Milton at 5pm and didn't get to downtown TO until almost 8pm. I even diverted at the 427 to the Gardiner but it took almost 2 hours to get from Milton to the 427!

    Also, last year when I was in LA I was very surprised that the traffic there didn't seem as bad as what I have gotten into in Toronto. The Santa Monica Freeway was nothing compared to what I have seen on the 401.
    'Planning Rockstar in training';-)

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