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Here are the 20 worst traffic bottlenecks in Canada

Daniel Martins
Digital Reporter

Wednesday, January 11, 2017, 2:04 PM - Many a driver, trapped once again in bumper-to-bumper traffic on the way to work, has declared "my commute is the WORST." Now, thanks to the Canadian Automobile Association, they're now are able to check to see if their stretch of highway really IS the worst -- or at least in the top 20.

A new report released by the CAA lists the top 20 worst traffic bottlenecks in Canada. Fully half were in Toronto, with a quarter in Montreal. Vancouver claimed four spots, while Quebec City takes the only spot on the list not occupied by one of Canada's three largest cities.

Spread out over those four cities, the bottlenecks together account for a mere 65 km out of Canada's extensive highway system, but that short stretch adds up to traffic delays of 11.5 million hours, and some 22.3 million litres of wasted fuel. It's also hard on the climate, with CO2 emissions of 58.6 million.

Those kinds of delays also cost money, and the number-crunchers behind the report estimate the annual economic impact of these bottlenecks to be a hefty $300 million per year.

RELATED: 12 moments when Canada's roads were at their worst

"Reducing these bottlenecks will increase the quality of life for millions of Canadians, save millions in fuel costs and reduce greenhouse gases, helping contribute to Canada's climate change commitments," Jeff Walker, CAA's vice-president of public affairs, said in a release Wednesday.

The report has plenty to say about the four cities featured in the top 20, but also addresses other bottlenecks in Calgary, Edmonton and Ottawa-Gatineau. You can find the top-20 list, and links to the report, down below, but here's a breakdown of the cities on the list.


Ten of the top 20 bottlenecks were in Toronto, and a 15 km stretch of Highway 401 from the 427 to Yonge Street is officially the worst in Canada. In fact, its the ninth worst in all of North America, coming in behind bottlenecks in Chicago, Los Angeles and New York.

RELATED: How the weather could affect your highway tolls

The 401 makes many appearances on the list, as do some other 400-series routes in the city. The Gardiner Expressway and Don Valley Parkway also make appearances.

"The total hours of delay on the DVP and the Gardiner are not as large as they are on the 401 because they are not nearly as wide and as such, do not carry as much volume," the report's authors write. "However, the average speeds on the DVP and the Gardiner are lower and more persistently low throughout the day."

Toronto Mayor John Tory has announced plans to introduce tolls on both those highways. The report's authors note the 407, which is already tolled, does not feature any persistent bottlenecks.

The QEW, which stretches from Toronto through the western GTA, also doesn't make the top-20 list, and the authors note the High Occupancy Vehicle (lanes) that were installed in 2010.

"Although the highway still sees congestion, it appears as if this new capacity has helped to reduce congestion levels enough so the highway does not rank among the worst bottlenecks in the GTHA," the report says.


Montreal, the heart of Canada's second largest urban area, accounts for a quarter of spots on the list, and the city's Highway 40 between Boulevard Pie-IX and Highway 520 ranks as third overall in the country.

Image: Frederic Hore

Image: Frederic Hore

However, though fewer than in Toronto, Montreal's bottlenecks feature worse traffic speeds, according to the report, with the Metropolitan Autoroute featuring average travel speeds at or below 50 km/h for the entire business day.

"In fact, there is almost no distinction between the AM, midday and PM peak periods on this stretch. Rather, that entire period can almost be considered as a single peak traffic period," the authors say.

They also note that "maximum achievable speeds" at Montreal's bottlenecks are not as high as on the 401.


Vancouver doesn't have the kind of expressways directly serving its downtown core as Toronto does, so the report's authors looked at other major roads such as the signalized part of Highway 99 that runs through the downtown.

The city makes four appearances in the top-20, debuting at number nine.

The authors noted the roads they looked at have much lower volume, and total delay estimates are lower than they would be if those routes were full-fledged expressways.

"In other words, although the ranking of the bottlenecks are not as severe as they are in Toronto and Montreal, the actual vehicle speeds that drivers experience into and out of downtown Vancouver are in fact as bad as or worse than they are in those two cities," the authors say, adding: "Travel speeds throughout the day on these bottlenecks are consistently at or lower than 30 km/h. In the case of West Georgia Street which runs through the downtown core, average travel speeds remain at approximately 20 km/h throughout the entire business day."

Quebec City

Quebec City's metropolitan area is not much larger than three quarters of a million, smaller than the Ottawa, Calgary and Edmonton metros, but it still creeps onto the list while those three communities are absent.

The culprit: A stretch of Highway 73 between Chemin des Quatre Bourgeois and the exit to Avenue Dalquier. It's only 700 metres long, but it earns the city the 17th spot.

Top-20 worst bottlenecks in Canada:

1. Toronto -- Highway 401 between Highway 427 and Yonge Street

2. Toronto -- Don Valley Parkway between Don Mills Road and Finch Avenue

3. Montreal -- Highway 40 between Boulevard Pie-IX and Highway 520

4. Toronto -- Gardiner Expressway between South Kingsway and Bay Street

5. Montreal -- Highway 15 between Highway 40 and Chemin de la Cote-Saint-Luc

6. Toronto -- Highway 401 between Bayview Avenue and Don Mills Road

7. Toronto -- Highway 409 between Highway 401 and Kipling Avenue

8. Montreal -- Highway 25 between Avenue Souligny and Rue Beaubien

9. Vancouver -- Granville Street at SW Marine Drive

10. Vancouver -- West Georgia Street between Seymour Street and W Pender Street

11. Toronto -- Highway 401 between Don Valley Parkway and Victoria Park Avenue

12. Toronto -- Black Creek Drive between Weston Road and Trethewey Drive

13. Toronto -- Highway 401 between Mavis Road and McLaughlin Road

14. Montreal -- Highway 40 between Highway 520 and Boulevard Cavendish

15. Vancouver -- Granville Street between West Broadway Street and West 16th Avenue

16. Montreal -- Highway 20 near 1re Avenue

17. Quebec City -- Highway 73 between Chemin des Quatre Bourgeois and exit to Avenue Dalquier

18. Toronto -- Highway 401 interchange at Highway 427

19. Toronto -- Highway 400 at Highway 401

20. Vancouver -- George Massey Tunnel on Highway 99

BONUS: Timelapse of the growth of the Greater Toronto Area

SOURCE: CAA studyCAA press release

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