Toronto’s Highway 407 Electronic Toll Route (ETR) is an example of a vital public service that is efficiently provided by the private sector. In 1999, SNC-Lavalin—as part of the 407 International Inc. consortium—was awarded a 99-year lease agreement with the Ontario Government to own, operate, design, build and finance the Highway 407 toll highway between Burlington and Pickering, including an existing portion and new eastern and westward extensions. SNC-Lavalin currently owns 16.8 percent of the equity in Highway 407 ETR.
Highway 407 ETR has invested over $1.4 billion to construct and maintain the highway since privatization. Today the Highway runs some 108 kilometres, and includes 197 on- and off-ramps, 156 bridges, 41 interchanges and 23 grade separations. According to 2013 figures, Highway 407 ETR had an average workday traffic volume of more than 380,000 vehicles per day, with motorists making over 114 million trips on the highway that same year.
Investing in Customers
Highway 407 is an open-access highway that facilitates the rapid, safe and reliable movement of traffic without the need to stop for toll booths. To make this possible, 407 ETR uses a series of overhead structures that read transponders mounted on a vehicle’s dashboard or windshield. The transponder emits a signal upon entering and exiting the highway, and the billing system establishes the distance travelled.
Overall, customers using the 407 Electronic Toll Route save time and money, according to an independent report released in late 2013 by the Conference Board of Canada. The study concluded that commuters using the Toll Route derive optimal value in the form of significant time savings, as well as potential maintenance and fuel cost savings. It also concluded that the 407 ETR continues to play a key role in residential and business/commercial growth along the highway.
SNC-Lavalin and its partners were recognized by the Canadian Council for Public-Private Partnerships at the 1999 National Awards for Innovation and Excellence with the 1998 Gold award for their role in the largest privatization project in Canadian history.
Highway 407 ETR was still garnering praise more than a decade later. In 2010, 407 ETR won the inaugural New Canadian Commercial Technology/Innovation or Research and Development Award from the Intelligent Transportation Systems Society of Canada for its state-of-the-art vehicle fingerprinting technology.
The consortium was also selected from a group of Toll Excellence Award winners to receive the President’s Award for Excellence. This signifies the highest honour given in the industry from the world’s foremost authority on tolling, thanks in part to the Highway’s consistently excellent safety record.