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Province looks at highway speeds

By Dave Flaherty/The Oshawa Express

Oshawa’s MPP thinks any discussion about raising speed limits in Ontario needs to include those who deal directly with motorists.

Minister of Transportation Jeff Yurek announced the province is planning to review increasing speeds on 400-series highways but will consult the public first.

“I’m interested in what comes from meaningful consultation with anyone who has a vested interest, such as first responders and the police,” Jennifer French told The Oshawa Express. “I’m encouraging the Minister to make sure that it is meaningful consultation.”

Yurek said current speed limits were set in the 1970s while there was an energy crisis.

“In order to conserve fuel, they lowered the speed limits on our highway system and it stayed that way ever since,” Yurek explained.

French said examining the use of Ontario’s roadways is “always important,” but admitted speed limits aren’t an issue she hears about a lot.

“Frankly, what comes to my office is winter road maintenance and tolls on the 412 and 418, and also a lack of use of those highways,” French said. “It’s not an issue that has come to my office specifically.”

Yurek said the government also wants to increase fines for motorists who drive too slowly in the left-hand lane.

These measures are part of the larger Getting Moving Ontario Act which would see the province to take over four new TTC subway lines.

Other proposals in the legislation include allowing single-occupant motorcyclists to use high occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes, increasing penalties for drivers who are dangerous around construction, maintenance, tow truck, and recovery workers, and exempting personal use pickup trucks and trailers from annual inspections.