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The Environmental Impacts of Highways

On the front of the Toronto Star today is a feature article with the catchy title: Your Highways From Hell. The story reminds us that the nightmare that is long weekend traffic in the Greater Toronto Area will soon be upon us. The problem has been exacerbated in recent years by a combination of regular maintenance work, slowing highway expansion, and steady population growth.

The explanation for the slowing construction of additional highways seems to focus mainly on the length of time required to complete environmental studies, stemming from a decision by previous governments to slow the relentless outward growth of the GTA. Once again, environmental good will (which everyone likes in theory) comes up against practical inconvenience (which everybody hates, especially when they are the ones being inconvenienced).

Let’s hope the worsening traffic leads to individuals making better traveling choices, rather than to governments spending our billions to expand highways that will only open up more suburbia to commuters. History shows that new highways tend to clog up as fast as they are built because they encourage more people to drive.

In another example of of shortsightedness, the corporate entity that is Pontiac, GMC, and Buick is enticing new vehicle purchasers with deals on gasoline. After purchasing your monster truck, you will receive a 20 cent discount on every liter of fuel you buy for the first year, with some limits.

Of course, by the time that deal expires gas prices will likely be even higher than they are today. The price of oil will have trickled throughout the economy and made everything around us more expensive as well, leaving the average driver with less disposable income.

Sounds like a bogus deal to me.

But hey, anything to keep the dream alive, right?

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