The Ontario government has unveiled a highway plan that will convert two stretches of the three-lane Highway 11 north of North Bay into a new model where the centre lane changes direction as often as every two to five kilometers.
This pilot project is designed to improve road safety and traffic flow for a critical link to Northern Ontario.
It’s being proclaimed by the Ontario PC government as the first of its kind in the continent, with the Minister of Transportation Caroline Mulroney saying, “Our government is moving forward with the first-ever 2+1 highway pilot in North America to help make our roads safer.”
This style of highway is already well-established in Europe, for example, Finland, Germany, the U.K., Portugal, Russia, and several other countries use the 2+1 highway design.
Unlike the reversible middle lane in Toronto’s Jarvis Street that offers no separation and only overhead light cues, a barrier will divide both directions of fast-moving highway traffic, zigzagging every few kilometers to give drivers on both sides partial access to the centre lane.
The project has identified two locations: a 14-kilometer stretch of Highway 11 from Sand Dam Road to Ellesmere Road, and another 16-kilometer run between Highway 64 and Jumping Caribou Lake Road.
The province is looking to implement the pilot project in the new year and is accepting comments from the public until January 11 to shape the project’s preliminary design.