Four Oh One

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The scene of a multi-vehicle crash that closed the westbound lanes of Highway 401 at Newtonville Road between Port Hope and Clarington in Newcastle, Ont., on Friday, Jan. 25, 2013. At least seven people have been injured, some critically, in a multi-vehicle collision on a busy southern Ontario highway.

The weather forecast is extremely important to us in Ontario in winter. But often we can’t stay home, and sometimes we are trying to get home. It doesn’t take a lot of snow to create major driving hazards… just a light dusting that hides a skin of black ice frozen on the surface of the highway. Heavy snow causes lots of other problems, but it takes fog or black ice to do this! There are more photos here.

Here is a happier story about Highway 401 from the early morning before… COLD CASE: Halton cop helps deliver Baby Violet on side of Hwy 401… piercing cold, and snow, this time Sergeant Snow.

The 401 is long, wide, fast, and often dangerous. If you live anywhere in southern Ontario you know it well… often in a love-hate relationship.

580px-Ontario_401_map.svgKing’s Highway 401, also known by its official name as the Macdonald–Cartier Freeway and colloquially as the four-oh-one, is a 400-series highway in the Canadian province of Ontario stretching 817.9 kilometres (508.2 mi) from Windsor to the Quebec border. The segment of Highway 401 passing through Toronto is the busiest highway in North America,  and one of the widest and busiest in the world.  Together with Quebec Autoroute 20, it forms the road transportation backbone of the Quebec City–Windsor Corridor, along which over half of Canada’s population resides. The entire route is maintained by the Ministry of Transportation of Ontario (MTO) and patrolled by the Ontario Provincial Police. The posted speed limit is 100 km/h (62 mph) throughout its length…

Highway_401It is one of the world’s busiest highways;  a 2008 analysis stated that the annual average daily traffic (AADT) count between Weston Road and Highway 400 in Toronto was approximately 450,000,  while a second study estimates that over 500,000 vehicles travel that section on some days.  This makes it the busiest roadway in North America, surpassing the Santa Monica Freeway in Los Angeles and I-75 in Atlanta. The just-in-time auto parts delivery systems of the highly integrated automobile industry of Michigan and Ontario have contributed to the highway’s status as the busiest truck route in the world,  carrying 60 percent of vehicular trade between Canada and the US. (Wikipedia)

The map is interactive… you can scroll along it and see the basket weave ramps.  They are far scarier when you are in the wrong lane and can’t get over, and traffic is moving steadily at 140kph or more! The driver observing the speed limit is a hazard in himself, as other drivers zoom up behind, brake hard, and then manoeuver to pass!

I’ll take the train!

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