Madam Speaker, as my hon. colleague just noted, the motion calls on the federal government to enter into an agreement with Ontario to widen Highway 16 between Highway 401 and Ottawa.
At present, Highway 16 links Ottawa to Highway 401, passing through the Brockville area. The stretch of highway in question is approximately 65 kilometres long. Traffic along this stretch of roadway is heavy, but not excessively so. I have been told that on average, between 15,000 and 30,000 vehicles travel this highway every day.
The road is relatively straight and the danger lies in the fact that drivers frequently pull out to pass other vehicles.
The posted speed limit on this highway varies between 50 and 90 kilometres per hour. However, most traffic travels at a speed of 90 kilometres per hour. Improved highway control would no doubt enhance safety.
I have also been told that the Government of Ontario is considering a project to expand this highway and that roughly $15 million has already been spent on a study of the proposed new route. It would seem, therefore, that Ontario has already given considerable thought to this project. As my hon. colleague noted, the timetable for completion would be rather long, perhaps as much as 20 years.
Highway 16 runs through a portion of the riding of Leeds-Grenville, which obviously explains my hon. colleague's interest in the project. As he indicated, as far as the northern stretch of the highway is concerned, costs would be divided into two stages.
According to the Ontario Ministry of Transport, construction costs would total $200 million, while the price tag for the remainder of the four-lane highway would be $180 million.
I gather the federal government's assistance is being requested because there is no four-lane highway linking the Nation's Capital to the capital city of the largest province in Canada. A four-lane highway would cut 30 minutes off the travel time. However, Madam Speaker, if we go along with this reasoning, then the federal government should be entering into a similar agreement with Quebec to expand Highway 50 into a four-lane highway linking Ottawa to another provincial capital, namely Quebec City. A four-lane highway would knock not 30 minutes, but 45 minutes off a five-hour trip. Ottawa would then be only four hours or so away from either Toronto or Quebec City.
If the motion carries, I would also call upon the federal government to stop dragging its heels on participating in the extension of Highway 13 so that Mirabel and Dorval airports can finally be linked.
All things considered, I question why Canadian taxpayers should have to pay for building four-lane highways in Ontario. Ontario should use the money from the infrastructure program if it wants federal funds to complete this project. My hon. colleague explained that he was not seeking additional funds, although this is not clear from his motion. I ask that the general rules of the infrastructure program be applied without exception and that no precedents which could be invoked later by other ridings be set.