The $1 billion Canadian ($730 million U.S.) expressway, which will run parallel with Toronto's 401 multi-lane highway, is being developed to alleviate traffic on the city's other main highways. "The 401 is running at about 80% of its designed capacity so there's a lot of congestion and gridlock on that highway," said Blake Ryder, president of Roadmaster, a subcontractor working on the project. About 350,000 vehicles an hour travel the highway during peak periods.
The construction of Highway 407 will result in more than 650,000 cu m (855,263 cu yd) of exposed concrete stretching nearly 70 km (44.75 miles) from Toronto's eastern border to the city's western edge. It will eventually connect all of the 400 series highways running north-south throughout Toronto.
The first phase of the project-36 km (22.5 miles) running from Highway 404 to Highway 410-is expected to be completed by the end of this year. The second phase will include a four-lane extension that runs west from Highway 410 to Highway 403 and another section east from Highway 404 to Highway 48.
"It is one of the first jobs where the ministry of transportation and private enterprise have gotten together to build a major highway. If the government had been building it under normal funding, it would have taken 20 years to complete the project," Ryder said. By awarding the job to a private consortium, funding is being raised through project-based financing rather than through taxes.
Ryder explains, "The consortium will maintain the road for 35 years and collect the road tolls to pay for the cost of construction and maintenance. After that period of time, the government will become responsible for operating the toll road."
With six lanes-three lanes each flowing east-west-Highway 407 will be the first steady toll road in Canada and one of the first electronically run, non-stop highways in the world.
For frequent users, who set up a pre-paid account, an electronic device placed on their vehicle's windshield will be read by an electronic transponder that will store the motorist's personal identification code and registered toll account. License plates of infrequent users and drivers without transponders will be photographed by cameras and sent to the ministry, who will then add the license plate numbers to its database and send the user a bill for the toll.
The electronic-toll system was developed by a consortium of Canadian companies led by Hughes Aircraft of Canada, and including Bell Canada, Bell Sygma and Mark IV. It created the technology over about a two-year period and will be responsible for maintaining it.
Passenger cars are expected to pay roughly nine Canadian cents a kilo-meter or $1 Canadian for an 11-km trip (73 cents U.S. per seven-mile trip). Commercial vehicles will pay a little more, and those without a transponder will pay more than those who have them installed.
Since concrete was first poured in mid-July 1995, the construction crews of Basic Concrete Cutting Inc., Mississauga, Ontario, and Roadmaster have been working zealously to bring this main artery to life. The two companies formed a partnership on the project and began working as subcontractors for Dufferin Construction, a division of St. Lawrence Cement, Oakville, Ontario, who also supplied the cement for the project. "Because it was such an extremely large job, it would have been too much work for any one company to handle, so the two of us decided to join forces," Ryder said.
Responsible for all of the saw cutting and sealing of the contraction and construction joints, the companies used nine pavement saws manufactured by Magnum Diamond & Machinery, Inc., Grandview, Mo., to complete the work. Roadmaster was responsible for the widening and sealing, while Basic Concrete Cutting performed the relief cutting.
To assist in keeping the project on schedule, Roadmaster purchased two new Magnum Diamond PS6585 SuperMag pavement saws.
"We used the new saws in conjunction with four Magnum saws that we already owned," Ryder said. "We were running three of the saws to make the first cut, the relief cut, at about 33¦4 in. deep. We used the other three to do the widening for sealing the joints at an inch and a half deep by a half-inch wide."
Basic Concrete Cutting Inc. also purchased two new SuperMag pavement saws, along with a center-line guide to assist in completing the expansion cutting. "The cuts we made, both the transverse and longitudinal, were about 31¦2 in. deep. The center-line guide helped keep our saws in the exact same spot over the entire length of the job," said Jim Sterioff, president of Basic Concrete Cutting.
The center-line guide system is designed to enable precise cutting in concrete construction. "One end of the guide is spring loaded, so it will take up any minor deviations in the edge," said Jeff Arnswald, vice president of marketing and sales for Magnum Diamond. "Up to three pavement saws can hook to the guide with their front pointers and push the guide along. The weight of the guide also helps keep the pavement saws in track."
The center-line guide contains three sections assembled right on the concrete slab, including a center section, two end sections and the wheel sections. "The wheels on top of the slab and on the side of the center-line guide keep it moving straight by following the edges of the concrete," Arnswald explained.
Working anywhere from 12 to 16 hours a day, six days a week, and covering about a kilometer (over half a mile) of highway in several different locations were some of the biggest challenges of the job, according to Ryder. "The challenges we encountered are representative of the proj-ect's size," he said. "It was a little harried at times because there were three to four crews pouring concrete at the same time, and getting to each place at the appropriate stage in the concrete curing process was difficult. "The SuperMags gave us a lot of flexibility on the job because we were able to pack up and move to different locations quickly. The saws enabled us to do our cutting within six to 24 hours after the concrete was poured," Ryder said.
Work on the project was delayed due to the unseasonably cool weather experienced in Toronto this spring; how-ever, work resumed on June 10.