July 23, 2002

CAA announces support for 4-lane Trans Canada highway

Ottawa, Ontario – The Canadian Automobile Association has expressed its support for a proposed four-lane Trans-Canada Highway from coast to coast. In a letter to the Prime Minister, CAA President, David Flewelling said, “As Canada’s main street, the Trans-Canada Highway touches the lives of every Canadian through the transportation of people, goods and services. It is a key link that, as part of our National Highway System, weaves individual communities into one great nation, connecting our major population and commercial centres, important ferry terminals and major access points to the United States.”

The CAA has been one of the most vocal proponents of an improved Trans Canada highway, and has urged the federal government to spend more fuel tax dollars on road repair. The CAA maintains that improvements to the Trans-Canada Highway will have direct benefits leading to an enhanced quality of life for Canadians through improved safety, greater productivity, trade opportunities, job creation and tourism. Road users will benefit from reduced injuries, improved travel time, and reduced pollution.

In 1998, the National Highway Policy Study Update commissioned by the Council of Ministers Responsible for Transportation and Highway Safety estimated that reduced congestion and improved
highway standards could reduce the number of fatalities by as many as 247 and injuries by up to 16,000 each year.

Impacts and benefits associated with an upgraded National Highway System were estimated to exceed $30 billion. This amount comprised $22.0 billion in travel-time savings, $5.8 billion in highway safety improvements, $2.9 billion in reduced vehicle operating costs, and $1.3 billion in user/productivity benefits. The study also showed that reducing congestion and improving the level of service provided by the National Highway System could reduce fuel consumption by up to 236 million litres per year.

Mr Flewelling didn’t address the government’s proposal to enact road tolls, user fees, and taxes to pay for improvements to the Trans Canada Highway. In the past, the CAA has been a vocal opponent to user fees and tolls. In September of 2000, previous CAA President David Hunt said, “Motorists already pay a high enough level of taxes and user fees to various governments that no new taxes need be levied to fund a national transportation infrastructure.”

In 2000, the CAA calculated that the federal government annually collects approximately $5 billion in automobile related revenue, but spends only an average of $300 million on roads each year – less than 6% of the total revenues.

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