Third Crossing Toll Road

Toll Road, Third Crossing, Kingston, OntarioKingstonians have been contemplating the necessity of a third crossing over the Cataraqui River since as far back as 1964.  Throughout the years, studies have suggested that this project would improve access between the east and west, relieve rush hour congestion on the LaSalle Causeway and 401, as well as enhance response times for emergency services. In spite of these potential benefits, the price tag (at least $120 million), mix of municipal, provincial and federal funding, and environmental ramifications have ultimately resulted in decades of inaction.

Although the actual 1.1 km link between Gore Road and John Counter Boulevard remains a mirage on the horizon, the City has taken steps to nudge this project along.  In 2009, the Kingston Transportation Master Plan (TMP) was updated with a recommendation to move forward with a third crossing.  The latest iteration of the TMP released in 2015 reaffirmed the City’s support, while it also recommended that the bridge be downgraded from 4 lanes to 2 lanes due a a mix of factors ranging from decreased population growth to the environmental impact.  Most recently, council committed $3 million to support preliminary design and cost estimates, with the intent that the project would be shovel ready by 2019.

With ongoing debate and the almighty dollar in mind, this got us thinking about how other Canadian communities built their bridges over troubled waters.  Cities such as Halifax, Fort Frances and Vancouver all managed to build their bridges, which share one common feature: tolls.  The incorporation of a fixed toll on Kingston’s third crossing could effectively defray the cost of construction, reduce our maintenance bill, and otherwise help rationalize the project for those who aren’t in favour.  While the idea has surfaced before, this week’s poll asks:

[poll id=”309″]

Downgrading the third crossing from 2 to 4 lanes was one of the best ideas the City has had regarding the third crossing, but truthfully it may not be enough to gain that critical mass of public support.  What’s the harm of council exploring whether or not tolls would be the best way to proceed for this new bridge?  As controversial as it may seem, it could very well be just the thing to turn the tide and get a 50+ year project in the making off the ground.

Drop off your thoughts regarding the necessity of a third crossing, and whether or not you’re in favour of tolls below.

Photo credit to Lindsay Kinkade.

Harvey Kirkpatrick

Harvey Kirkpatrick is Kingstonist's Co-Founder. His features curiously explore urban planning, what if scenarios, the local food scene and notable Kingstonians. Loves playing tourist and listening to rap music. Learn more about Harvey...

9 thoughts on “Third Crossing Toll Road

  • I want to see an option that says, no I don't think we need a third crossing.

  • If the point of building a third crossing is to reduce congestion on the other crossings, isn’t having a toll counter-productive?

    • Pricing a toll would be key to ensuring it's usage, and realizing the spin off benefits it was intended to create. Much like other cities who have gone this route, monthly and annual passes would certainly make it a more attractive option. Perhaps not all residents would want to regularly pay tolls, but businesses could easily justify/write off.

  • Are we one city or are we not? Are there any other toll roads or bridges elsewhere in Kingston? For far too many years now this has been studied and debated, and all the studies have concluded that the bridge is justified and necessary. This city's leaders need to grow a spine, put the funding in place and get it done. It's no different than any other necessary capital project. It could have been built so much more cheaply if it had just been done when the need was first identified and the cost will only continue to increase until the inevitable happens and the bridge is finally built. Tolls are not the answer, any more than they would be the answer for any other road expansion in the city.

    • Correct, we can drive on any road/bridge in this city without having to pay a toll. However, the catch is that one must be in a car to do so, which is not something everyone owns/has access to. I believe that regardless of whether or not Taxpayer A has a car, or a need to use the new bridge, they should still pay. But let's go one step further. Why not make Taxpayer B, who would actually use the crossing, pay just a little bit to keep costs down for Taxpayer A. The same principle applies to other services, venues in the city such as pools, rinks, buses and museums. We all chip in to keep those things operating, regardless of whether or not we all use them.

      • What you are suggesting is a very slippery slope. A road/bridge is not a sports venue so the analogy is not a good one. Why should some residents have to pay to use a specific public road/bridge? Once the taxpayer accepts that premise, why not charge tolls everywhere, or charge taxes based on the mileage that you drive? There are many roads in this city that I will never use but I don't object to paying for them. That's just part of living in a community. But adding a toll sets a dangerous precedent. What would prevent the city from then deciding that there should also be a toll for users of the Lasalle Causeway?

        Also, with respect to your comment suggesting that only car owners use roadways, I would suggest that everyone uses roads. People bike on them, they walk on them, they ride in taxis and city buses on them.

        In the end, it's not about usage. There are many examples in our daily lives where we all contribute for the greater common good. That's part of living in a society, as you also acknowledged in your reply.

        • I actually like the idea of taxing for driving anywhere based on distance travelled. I bet it happens 20~ years down the road when its clear gasoline taxation is on the way out.

          I would be okay with tolling the bridge or not. I don't believe it will happen unless it becames clear at some point there wouldn't be funding from senior levels. It would be couterproductive if it didn't move traffic from the causeway.

          No sure why the bridge gets so much attention while projects with similar amounts of money (eg counter street) are not controversial at all.

  • The bridge is not necessary. Cost is too high and benefits are not significant especially with the shift to transit and stabilizing population.

  • The creation of a toll bridge would help ensure that those who most want to use the bridge would help cover the cost of its maintenance.

Leave a Reply

You cannot copy content from this page, please share the link instead!