Highway 401 -- The Story

Concept depicting the dual highway and interchanges at Oshawa, 1935

Some background

As a child of seven I remember riding in the rumble seat of my dad's 1936 Oldsmobile convertible as he slowly inched his way along in a Saturday afternoon traffic jam on the Lansing Road. He was waiting to turn onto the busy Highway 2 so we could picnic in the wilderness of the Rouge Valley just east of Toronto.

Highway 2, Ontario's first trans-provincial highway, had become seriously congested by the late-1930s. And on that day in the late 1940s when my dad headed out of Toronto with five kids and our mom jammed into the vintage Oldsmobile, Saturday afternoon traffic had become horrendous.

The old highway was only two lanes over its 540-mile (869 km) length and became the main street of every town and city along the way. The aging highway just couldn't handle the vastly increasing volumes of truck and car traffic in the booming economy of post-war Ontario, having as it did a maximum capacity of 5,300 vehicles a day.

But the Ontario Department of Highways was hard at work putting the finishing touches on the first section of dual lane highway between Highland Creek and Oshawa that would later be incorporated as part of Ontario's new trans-provincial super highway, the "Four-O-One".

The new super highway -- along with construction of other massive public works in the 1950s -- the St. Lawrence Seaway, the Trans-Canada Pipeline, and the Trans- Canada Highway -- was in great part responsible for the lifestyle we enjoy in Ontario today. Built over 20 years at a total cost of $425-million Highway 401 was a bargain.

The new highway made it faster and more pleasurable to get from one place to another and the pay back, in terms of the social and economic benefits to Ontario over the years has been incalculable. The super highway freed Ontario industries from the city cores, downtown rail and port facilities. New plants appeared in newly created industrial parks in smaller communities along the freeway. Yet, products still could be shipped quickly and easily to domestic and export markets via truck. New vistas were opened for the siting automotive plants, warehousing and freight-forwarding operations.

For better or for worse, construction of the 401 also spurred a building boom in bedroom communities around the periphery of Toronto. Workers moved to take up jobs in newly decentralized industries. City workers migrated to smaller communities bought houses and began to commute to work in Toronto by car. Additionally, the QEW and Highway 401 gave U. S. tourists speedy access to Ontario and presented new opportunities for Ontario's tourism industry.

In great part, the rapid growth of the Greater Toronto Area was made possible by the freeway network anchored by the 401. The trade-off -- a vast urban sprawl from Milton through to Bowmanville, constant traffic noise, chemical pollutants and salt in the run off from the highway.

The whine of tires on the 820 kilometres (510 miles) of 401 never ceases -- 24 hours a day -- from Windsor in the southwest, to just east of the Village of Lancaster in eastern Ontario where our freeway joins with Highway 20 at the Quebec boundary.
Today it is estimated that about 60 per cent of all trade between Canada and the U.S. is carried by truck via the 401, 403 and the Queen Elizabeth Way. Last year alone it is estimated 4.6 million trucks traveled the Highway 401 Detroit-Toronto corridor. Some of these trucks service the Ford, Chrysler and General Motors plants on the 401 corridor with 'just-in-time delivery.

Added to that are one million daily commuter trips within the Greater Toronto Area. Traffic volumes continue to grow and traffic congestion has become a daily part of modern life for 401 commuters.

For motorists, another frustration -- construction and repairs seem to be continuous. This work is necessary to keep up with wear and tear from cars and trucks, time and weather. Traffic volumes on 401 today exceed its design capacity at peak rush hours -- part of the reason for the building of Highway 407, Ontario's first electronically tolled freeway.

Interestingly enough, there was strong pressure on the government to toll the partially built Highway 401 in the mid-1950s, as the driving public became frustrated with what was seen as the snail-like pace of construction. As a result the government appointed a "Select Committee on Toll Roads and Highway Financing" to review the idea in 1955.

The committee's 1956 report strongly recommended against construction or operation of toll roads by the private sector. However, Ontario drivers soon found themselves paying tolls to cross the two skyways on the Queen Elizabeth Way -- tolls that were discontinued at the end of 1973.

A bit of early 401 history

From a historical perspective, Ontarians owe a debt of gratitude to the foresight of Hamiltonian Thomas B. McQueston, because the freeway concept was his idea. McQueston was the dynamic, go-getter highways minister in the Mitch Hepburn government from 1934 to 1943 -- the moving force behind both the Queen Elizabeth Way and Highway 401 and many other public works.

Construction on the QEW had been under way since 1931 as a four-lane roadway, but McQueston quickly changed the concept in 1935. Thus our first super highway was re designed as a dual-lane, divided roadway with landscaping and a grass median with trees, based on the advanced design of the autobahns being built in Germany at the time.

These features dramatically improved the aesthetics, traffic flows and safety. Planning for construction of Ontario's second super highway actually began in 1935, the same year the Queen Elizabeth Way was converted to a dual-lane divided highway concept. By 1936 work had started -- easterly from Woodstock, at Highland Creek on the Kingston Road in the east end of Toronto and westerly from Brockville.

Grading on the Highway 2A (401) alignment between Highland Creek and Oshawa was almost completed when World War II was declared in September 1939. However, all highway building in Ontario soon came to a standstill -- except for work to complete the Hearst-to-Geraldton stretch of Highway 11 in northern Ontario. This link to Trans-Canada Highway 17 on the north shore of Lake Superior was deemed vital to the war effort.

However, DHO staff at home were able to carry out the necessary origin-destination studies during the war years, surveying 375,000 drivers to help plan the basic route or "desire line" of the proposed super highway.

The five-year war time delay was serendipitous, giving DHO planners time to assess deficiencies of the QEW. Also, the many innovations in electronics, aerial photography, road construction techniques, and construction machinery developed during the war could eventually be applied to the building of 401 and other 400 series highways.

Postwar planners at DHO learned improved the design of the proposed 401 to make it even better than the QEW. For a start, they specified a separate 300-foot right-of-way wherever possible (91.4 m) to permit to future expansion -- compared to a 132-foot right-of-way (40 m) which severely limited expansion of the QEW.

The section of alignment between Yonge Street and Weston Road in Toronto posed a singular problem. To achieve a 300-foot right-of-way, DHO had to buy several hundred houses and properties. The Department used a "buy-sell" formula that meant an owner could buy the remainder of his property back if it wasn't needed but could not claim for damages -- from noise for example. To everyone's surprise, rather than depreciating in value, houses along the periphery of the freeway purchased by DHO from owners who moved elsewhere made a healthy profit when sold to new owners.

Highway 401 was also conceived as a completely controlled-access highway on a separate alignment from start to finish, bypassing all the cities and towns along its length. The only traffic access would be via interchanges, in contrast to the many at-grade intersections found on the QEW.

The depressed medians would be wider, and without the trees that presented crash hazards on the QEW. Unlike the autobahns and the QEW, the 401 was also designed with gentle curves to help alleviate driver boredom and fatigue.

The new science of photogrammetry -- using aerial photos for route planning, bridge and road design, speeded up the planning process. And some of the first commercial computers were used by DHO engineers to calculate alignment, grades and such things as the amount of earth and rock that needed to be excavated. These new technologies helped to shorten the planning and construction process for each section of 401 to about four years.

Construction starts

Grading resumed on the Highland Creek to Oshawa section of dual-highway in 1946. And this 18 1/2-mile (29.6 km) stretch was completed in December 1947 -- giving post-war drivers frustrated by Highway 2 traffic jams a small taste of the stress-free ease of 'freeway cruising'. My dad sure liked driving on that piece of highway.

In 1950, the year vehicle registrations passed the one million mark, DHO Minister George Doucette officially announced plans for construction of the new trans- provincial super highway. The Highland Creek-to-Oshawa stretch with its modern interchanges was used as a basic design model for the rest of 401. The driving lanes were built of concrete like the U.S. Interstates. The new freeway was cleverly planned and pieced together like a patchwork quilt. Sections of 401 were constructed first in areas having the greatest need for relief from traffic congestion. As they were completed individual sections of 401 were connected with Highway 2 or local roads to give continuity. Over a period years all the parts were steadily linked together to form a continuous freeway.

Highway 401 construction was delayed in part, because of material and manpower shortages after World War II and onset of the Korean war in 1949. Also, the government's first priority was construction of The Toronto-Barrie Highway to relieve bumper-to-bumper traffic on Highway 11, the main north-south route at the time. When this 50 mile (80 km) freeway opened to traffic in 1952, DHO's full attention was shifted back to the trans-provincial highway.

Construction started in the Toronto area in 1951 and by late 1952 the bypass north of Toronto was completed between Yonge Street and Weston Road. In the same year, the Department of Highways designated the new highway the "401" and the Toronto Barrie Highway the "400" to differentiate the new series of highways from other King's Highways.

When the 401 "Toronto Bypass" or "Interceptor Road" was finished in 1956 it consisted of two lanes in each direction, from Islington Avenue to Markham Road. And the four lanes could carry up to 35,000 cars a day, an amazing capacity for the time.

One writer in a Toronto newspaper waxed poetically describing the bypass as a "motorists dream," providing "some of the most soothing scenery in the Metropolitan area ... and the eastern section of the bypass winds smoothly through pastures across streams and rivers, and beside green thickets. It seems a long way from the big city..."

Toronto commuters took to the 401 bypass like ducks to water. By 1959, traffic on the Toronto section had blossomed to 85,000 cars a day at peak rush hours and the city was starting to envelope the northern bypass. But DHO planners were already drafting plans for expansion, as we shall see a bit further along in the story.

Unlike U. S. freeways, part of the 401 plan was to build a freeway with bridges and interchanges that displayed clean lines, dramatic simplicity and an impression of airiness. The concept also included a ban on commercial billboards, tourist signs and construction of buildings within a quarter of a mile of the freeway to avoid clutter.

No provision whatsoever had been made for on-highway services or rest areas because of the opposition of local officials in the bypassed communities lining the 401. Motorists were compelled to exit from the new super highway to seek hotels, rest rooms, food and gas.

In 1961, however, DHO grudgingly acceded to increasingly loud complaints from the driving public, and announced it would lease strategic sites along 401 to allow major oil companies to build service centres. Nineteen of these facilities appeared along 401 over the next eight years. The coffee may have tasted like the paper cups it was served in, the cafeteria-style food was pure stodge, but at least drivers had places to stop and could now get gas 24 hours a day -- one way or another.

The Toronto bypass expands

Then in 1963, Charles, MacNaughton, another DHO minister, grandly announced that the Toronto bypass between Markham Road and Islington Avenue would be expanded into a massive 12-lane, collector -

express system -- made possible by DHO ownership of the the 300-foot right-of-way. Transfer lanes, a new innovation, were to be built at strategic locations so drivers could migrate to and from the express and collector lanes. The model used for this massive undertaking was Chicago's multi-lane Dan Ryan Expressway.

Announced completion of the $63-million project was 1967. However, the 12-laning dragged on until 1972, but now included a welcome extension to Highway 27, soon to be 427. The new collector-express system had a total capacity of 164,000 vehicles a day -- and traffic volumes soon rose to more than 125,000 vehicles a day.

The massive project also included construction of the complex multi-level interchanges at Highway 400, the Spadina Expressway (Allen Road) and Highway 427 along with reconstruction of all the interchanges and ramps at all major intersecting north-south streets in Toronto. The new collector-express system, including the interchanges, received a new continuous lighting system with bright mercury vapour lights on 50-foot (15 m) high poles to make night time driving safer.

The DHO "Emergency Patrol,"created in 1963, was always there to give a helping hand to stranded drivers on the expanded Toronto section of the freeway. Over the years patrollers helped tens of thousands of motorists. To compliment the Toronto section of freeway the department also developed a new series of colour-coded signs. Additionally, interchanges were numbered and mileage markers placed along the length of the freeway.

An official opening of Highway 401 took place in November 1964, trumpeting the completion of the freeway with the opening of a 10-mile (16 km) stretch from east of the Village of Lancaster easterly to the Quebec boundary. However, there were still a dozen or so two-lane sections left along the freeway. This conformed to DHO's plan to expand the highway to four lanes in any given area only when traffic volumes justified the expenditure.

Two-lane sections included the diversion known today as the Thousand Islands Parkway between Gananoque and Brockville. When construction started on this stretch in the mid-1930s, it was seen as part of the future dual-divided highway Thomas B. McQueston envisioned from Toronto eastward. Department of Highway planners eventually incorporated this section along the St. Lawrence River into the 401 route in the 1950s.

However, outcries from landowners and local politicians finally persuaded DHO to construct an expensive $5.2-million 401 bypass on a separate alignment in the 1960s. The Parkway could now be dedicated to leisurely tourist excursions along the St. Lawrence River. The land held for a second set of lanes on the north side of the Parkway has since become a walking and biking path.

In January 1965, in anticipation of Canada's 1967 Centennial, Premier John Robarts re-named Highway 401 the MacDonald-Cartier Freeway, to honour Canada's two founding fathers and the freeway's logical link to Highway 20 leading to "La Belle Province" and Montreal. Sadly, the majority of signs have slowly deteriorated in recent years and have been taken down.

Opening of the final four-lane section of 401, the one bypassing the Thousand Islands Parkway, took place in October 1968. This marked completion of Highway 401 to a minimum of four-lanes over the full 510 mile (820 km) route. In 1969 another official 401 opening took place near Ivy Lea with the unveiling of a bronze plaque by James Auld (left) Minister of Tourism and DHO Minister George Gomme (right).

A few bumps along the road

As freeways go, Highway 401 was a fine piece of work. However there were a few bumps along the way -- like the contractor down near Cornwall, who against the advice of DHO engineers, set up a stockpile of gravel 25-feet high (7.6 m) in preparation for construction on his stretch of 401. The whole pile quickly sank into the thixotropic marine clay that predominated in the area and was lost.

Bumps also included the decreasing radius ramps built at some interchanges -- designed at a time when maximum speed limits in Ontario were only 50 mph (80 km/h). Many have been reconstructed over the years, but a few like the ones on the 401 / 400 interchange are still there.

The massive Highway 401/427 interchange, completed in 1971 was another road bump. The designers, for some reason did not allow space for expansion of Toronto's 12 lane collector - express system beneath it. This six-lane bottleneck (three main lanes in each direction) is still an obstacle. The only remedy would be an expensive reconstruction of this vast interchange that encompasses 29 miles (46.6 km) of roadway.

Premature deterioration of the concrete pavement on Highway 401 also caused some bumps. The concrete riding surface was starting to wear out, in part because of the use of studded snow tires for a number of years (banned forever in Ontario in 1971) and partly because of weather, increasing use of winter salt, and the constant wear and tear of millions of cars and trucks.

MTC first tried to give the concrete pavement some tooth by having transverse grooves cut into the concrete driving lanes on many parts of the Toronto bypass. But the concrete was also cracking and crumbling on 401 across Toronto and elsewhere. After studying the problem MTC decided the most economical solution was to repair and overlay the many deteriorated sections with asphalt.

For most of the 1970s Highway 401 remained essentially unchanged, except for widening to six lanes first to Meadowvale Road in Scarborough, and eventually to Oshawa -- some ramp widening and annual maintenance. One thing that did change was that the Department of Highways became the Ministry of Transportation and Communications in 1972.

On the other hand, a recession heralded the start of the decade. Also, the so-called Middle East oil crisis of 1973 spurred gasoline prices and rapid inflation during the 1970s. Even so MTC did begin construction on an impressive number of regional freeways to connect with Highway 401 during the 70s. And this time Highway 401 and its updated Parclo A4 interchanges was used as a model for the new freeways.

These included: Highway 427 - widened and extended north of 401( to north of Finch Avenue by 1984); Highway 404 - extended northerly (completed to Aurora by 1984); Highway 409 to Malton International Airport (opened in 1978); Highway 403 through Mississauga to the QEW (completed in 1982); Highway 402 between London to Sarnia (completed in 1982); and Highway 410 north to Brampton (opened with 2 lanes in 1978, completed 1989).

By 1980 traffic volumes had outstripped the capacity of the Toronto section yet again, with traffic counts in Etobicoke topping 299,000 vehicles a day. MTC had been working behind the scenes towards further 401 expansion. But now it was a game of catch-up because of rapid growth in Pickering and Mississauga, London, Woodstock and the Kitchener- Cambridge areas.

Another recession in 1981-82, continuing inflation and growing demands for more funding for social services and health care also slowed the pace of highway construction and expansion -- as the government wrestled with these and other priorities. Even so Highway 401 plans kept rolling along.

The freeway was tweaked to accommodate the vast increase in GTA commuter traffic. New interchanges appeared at Neilson Road in Scarborough and Whites Road in Pickering. By the summer of 1985, the 12 lane collector-express system had been pushed west from Renforth Drive into Mississauga as far as the 401/403 interchange.

However, commuters in Durham Region in the eastern part of the GTA had to wait and suffer. Every working day they found themselves cheek to jowl with their neighbours from 6 a.m. onwards on 401. The sun was at their backs morning and evening, but the commute was a trudge.

Changing times and expansion

The 42-year record tenure of the Progressive Conservative government finally came to an end in June 1985 and when the Liberals took office. By the time a new Conservative government was voted back into power a decade later, the other two parties, both Liberal and New Democrats, had had their turns at highway building.

In the fall of 1987 MTC underwent yet another name change to MTO (Ministry of Transportation). In the same year, Ed Fulton, Transportation Minister in David Peterson's government, officiated at the ground breaking ceremony for Highway 407, a new Toronto / GTA bypass. This project, proposed back in the 1960s, was designed to relieve increasing traffic pressure on Highway 401.

No one could predict that five years later in 1993, another MTO Minister, Gilles Pouliot, this time a New Democrat, would announce that the first section of Highway 407 would be completed by a private-sector consortium as a toll highway.

But back to Durham commuters -- the ground breaking for a major expansion of the Highway 401 collector express system from Morningside Avenue to Brock Road in Pickering, to the relief of the easterners, took place in the fall of 1989 with Liberal Transportation Minister, Bill Wrye officiating. Like all of Ontario's modern freeway expansions, a concrete median barrier would be installed to reduce the potential for cross median collisions.

Durham commuters, however, had to wait until 1997, through the tenure of a Liberal, then NDP government and into the first term of a "Reform" Progressive Conservative government for completion of 12-laning to Brock Road. Of course, massive and complex highway projects like this one can only be constructed in stages over a period of years.

The 1990s, despite a severe recession, saw a spurt in 401 expansion -- a concession to the overwhelming pace of commercial and residential growth in communities lining the freeway. Projects included widening 401 to six lanes between Woodstock and London along with the long stretch between Milton and Cambridge. Both projects were completed in the mid-1990s. When widening is completed between Kitchener and Woodstock (currently under way) motorists will be able to cruise all the way from Toronto to London on three lanes.

The Emergency Patrol, long an institution on GTA freeways, was axed in 1995, a victim of technology and government budget cuts. MTO's COMPASS system, consisting of all-weather video cameras, vehicle sensors and changeable electronic signs took up the slack with the assistance of private tow trucks. The COMPASS technology has been continuously expanded on Highway 401, other GTA freeways, and the Queen Elizabeth Way.

In 1997, the same year, the 401 collector-express system reached Brock Road in Pickering, work started on a multi-year project to widen Highway 401 to six lanes from Highway 35 / 115 easterly to Port Hope. Scheduled for completion in 2004, the 25 kilometres of widening will eliminate yet another weekend traffic bottleneck and ease the way for thousands of vacationers and truckers heading to eastern Ontario and Quebec.

New ways of doing things

Something else that changed under both the NDP and the Progressive Conservative governments in the 1990s, was the flowering of provincial-municipal partnerships and provincial-private sector partnerships. The concept had been used a several times in the past, but now it became government policy -- as a method of sourcing additional funding to get highway projects built faster. Highway 407 is the largest private-sector example to date.

The Pickering-to-Oshawa stretch of 401 is another example. Work is currently under way to widen Highway 401 to 10 lanes easterly from Harwood Avenue in Ajax to the new Carruthers Creek Interchange (a government municipal partnership) -- slated for completion in 2005. MTO is also well along with plans for a new Lakeridge Road Interchange at Whitby and Stevenson Road Interchange in Oshawa (more cost sharing).

Widening of 401 to 10 lanes through Oshawa, will necessitate reconstructing the old post-war era bridges and interchanges through the city's downtown, a monumental task. To this point (Spring 2002) 401 has been widened to eight lanes between Brock Road and Harwood Avenue and work is continuing on widening towards Ajax.

In the 1990s, MTO also built a number of new high volume, high speed, hi-tech truck inspection stations to better accommodate the vastly increased numbers of trucks using Highway 401 and the Queen Elizabeth Way.

Most of these stations are equipped with electronic technology allowing trucks with on-board transponders to automatically download the required information as they pass overhead sensors located on the freeway at each station location.

The long stretch of 401 between London and Windsor figured prominently in the newspapers and on TV newscasts in the late 1990s because of a continuing stream of fatal collisions. As a public furore rose to fever pitch, this section was dubbed "Carnage Alley," "The Killer Highway" and "The Bermuda Triangle" by outraged local officials, opposition MPPs and the media.

Finally, after a spectacular multiple vehicle collision that took place on a foggy morning during the Labour Day weekend in 1999, the government was spurred into action. Reacting to public outcries, MTO's minister David Turnbull announced "An Action Plan for Safer Roads" in late September.

The plan included tougher police enforcement, upgraded signing, reflective lane markings on curves and paving of shoulders on both sides of the driving lanes. Many long sections have also been reconstructed in the area as part of MTO's ongoing program. Since that time the number of fatal collisions thankfully has declined.

Part of the action plan also called for the future upgrading of Highway 401 to six lanes over its whole length from Windsor on the west easterly to the Quebec boundary. However, this will necessarily take many years.

In eastern Ontario the final link in the $323-million Highway 416 (The Veteran's Memorial Parkway) was completed to Highway 401 at Johnstown in 1999. Now Torontonians have continuous freeway access via 401 and 416 to Ottawa, the nation's capital.

In 2001 MTO announced future plans for extensions of Highways 410, 427, 404 and provision for a future GTA east-west freeway corridor north of 407 (location yet to be determined). These extensions could also end up as electronically-tolled highways although no final decisions have been made.

In April 2002 MTO announced that the government was planning to extend the 12-lane collector express system westerly from the Highway 401 / 403 / 410 interchange to the Mavis Road interchange in Mississauga (another provincial-municipal partnership project).

In late November 2003 the new Liberal Transportation Minister announced several 401 improvements reaffirming the widening of 401 to six lanes between Windsor and Tilbury. The new minister also announced plans to widen Highway 401 east of Belleville and across Kingston in eastern Ontario.

MTO plans also call for expansion of the freeway to 10 lanes from Mavis Road westerly to Trafalgar Road -- again to accommodate rapid traffic growth in the western part of the GTA. The old Mississauga Road Interchange was also reconstructed as a cost-sharing project with Mississauga.

No doubt Highway 401 will continue to carry the bulk of trans-provincial truck and car traffic into the foreseeable future, at least until Highway 407 is extended to the Ajax-Whitby area, then south to link with Highway 401 at some future date. Until this happens truck and car drivers who want to bypass the GTA have no alternative but to use 401.

Today, Highway 401 also has the dubious honour of being the busiest freeway in North America, with traffic volumes surpassing the Santa Monica Freeway in California. At times traffic peaks around 400,000 vehicles a day between Keele Street and Islington Avenue in the west end of Toronto. And the 401 bridges over Hogg's Hollow (now being widened) carry more traffic each day than the George Washington Bridge over the Hudson.

The Progressive Conservative government (replaced by a Liberal government, now in its second term) had their own vision for Ontario's highways, including Highway 401. Over a period of eight years the P.C.'s spent about $6.5 billion to upgrade the provincial highway network to a point where 80 per cent of Ontario's highways fell into the 'good' category'. Under the current government, the Auditor General's reports show that overall the condition our highways and bridges have deteriorated, although several high-profile projects, such as the six-laning of Highway 401 across the Province was announced in 2007.

As to whether any provincial government now or in the future will lean towards the electronic tolling of Highway 401 across Toronto, or other GTA freeways like Highway 403 remains to be seen. The ethics involved in taxing motorists twice or three times by placing tolls on highways built directly or indirectly with public tax dollars is a matter for continuing debate as is the selling of public assets to the private sector.

A postscript -- The idea of raising Ontario freeway speed limits pops up every so often based on the short-sighted reasoning that driver speeds exceed the limit anyway. Just for the record, the speed limit on 400 series highways was 50 miles per hour (80 km/h) until 1968, when it was raised to 70 mph (112 km/h). In January 1976, when Ontario seat belt legislation came into effect, the freeway speed limit was reduced to 60 mph (100 km/h). In the year following these changes the fatality rate dropped dramatically from 1,800 to 1,200 road deaths. This trend has continued -- to about 850 fatalities a year, with the help of revised legislation and consistent police enforcement. There seem to be two issues here -- safety, and another related to fuel conservation. In 1976 Ontario and other provinces, following the U.S. example, lowered freeway speeds in part because of the prevailing "energy crisis" at that time. We seem to be heading for, or are already swamped by another oil crunch. This issue alone would seem to preclude raising speed limits.

The writer would be pleased from anyone who would like to comment on the story.

Copyright © December 2007 by John G. Shragge. All rights reserved. No part of this story may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise (except for brief passages for purposes of review) without the prior written permission of the copyright holder. Permission to photocopy should be requested from the author.

Email John Shragge for historical roads: shragge@pathcom.com

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