The Northern Policy Institute (NPI) says 2+1 roads should be introduced across much of the highway network in Northern Ontario.
The system includes three lanes and incorporates a regular passing lane that changes direction approximately every two to five kilometres, and is separated by a barrier.
A new study by NPI finds implementing 2+1 roads would provide a lower-cost solution with similar or superior road safety than twinning.
Author William Dunstan says the barrier is key with safety.
“There are still accidents but sideswiping a barrier is much better than having a head-on collision with someone going 100 km/h in the other direction,” he says. “That’s where you get the significant safety benefits with 2+1.”
He adds another benefit is reducing the risk of delays seen with serious collisions.
“2+1 roads can save time they can more importantly save lives and they can save taxpayer dollars compared to highway twinning,” Dunstan says.
The institute says most two-lane highways in the region with annual average daily traffic between 3,000 and 20,000 vehicles should be upgraded to a 2+1 configuration.
However, it also says prospective upgrades must be assessed on a case-by-case basis.
NPI’s study notes specific sections of highways where 2+1 is likely to provide a positive benefit-cost mix include Highway 11 from North Bay to just west of Hearst, and Highway 17 from Mattawa to Sault Ste. Marie.
In July the province awarded a contract for environmental assessment and design work for a 2+1 project, including a 14 kilometre stretch of Highway 11 North, just north of North Bay.