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Highway congestion not an issue in Niagara: CAA

A study by the Canadian Automobile Association says Niagara enjoys substantially fewer traffic snarls than other municipalities.The stretch along Highway 405, Stanley Avenue to Queenston-Lewiston Bridge was part of that study. 
(Mike DiBattista/Niagara Falls Review/Postmedia Network)

A study by the Canadian Automobile Association says Niagara enjoys substantially fewer traffic snarls than other municipalities.The stretch along Highway 405, Stanley Avenue to Queenston-Lewiston Bridge was part of that study. (Mike DiBattista/Niagara Falls Review/Postmedia Network)

Rush-hour traffic only adds five to six minutes to daily drive times on certain highway stretches in Niagara, according to a new study by the Canadian Automobile Association.

The study, which focuses on highway traffic, is the first of its kind undertaken nationally by CAA.

“As you might suspect, the study confirms Niagara enjoys substantially fewer traffic snarls than other municipalities,” said Rick Mauro, CAA Niagara’s vice president of marketing and public relations.

“It’s fair to say that Niagara’s rush hour is really just rush minutes. In Toronto, traffic congestion adds 36 minutes to the daily commute. We’re lucky we don’t have to battle heavy highway congestion every day.”

The CAA study, Grinding to a Halt, Evaluating Canada’s Worst Bottlenecks, confirmed these statistics for Niagara:

Highway congestion between 7 a.m. and 9 a.m. adds six minutes to the commute along Highway 405, Stanley Avenue to Queenston-Lewiston Bridge; QEW, Gilmore Road to Peace Bridge; QEW, between Lake Street and Niagara Street.

Highway congestion between 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. adds five minutes to the commute along Highway 405, Stanley Avenue to Queenston-Lewiston Bridge; QEW, Gilmore Road to Peace Bridge.

According to the study, congestion and traffic bottlenecks are the biggest contributor to road delay, far outpacing traffic accidents, bad weather and construction.

Traffic is also a major source of stress for Canadians.

 Canada’s top 20 traffic bottlenecks are in Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver and Quebec City and collectively cost drivers more than 11.5-million hours of their time every year and burn an extra 287-million litres of fuel per year.

“Congestion can play a negative impact on the quality of life,” said Alex Pedersen, public relations co-ordinator for CAA Niagara.

“Because in Niagara we don’t have that congestion, people are spending less time in their cars, meaning they’re able to be more productive at work, but they’re also able to spend more time outside of work with their families. They’re getting home at a relatively decent hour.”

Being virtually free of highway traffic congestion “definitely contributes to a higher level of productivity,” said Mauro.

“I know that when I have those occasions where I need to go into Toronto and I need to bring my car, your state of mind is completely different if you come by car and you’re stuck in congestion,” he said.

Mauro said he and Pedersen “had the pleasure” of re-locating back to Niagara for work from the Greater Toronto Area, so they’re no strangers to how congestion can snarl traffic.

Pedersen said it’s no surprise Toronto has more bottlenecks since it has a larger population.

“There are also more jobs in Toronto, so you’re finding that more people are commuting from the Hamilton area to Toronto, which causes congestion and bottlenecks as well,” she said.

Mauro said the short piece of the QEW in St. Catharines, as well as those entrance areas to the international bridges, were the only areas where CAA found congestion along Niagara highways.

He said the study focused only on highways and didn’t include traffic on municipal and regional roads.

Mauro said another study focusing on non-highway areas is “definitely something that bears reviewing.”

“For this study, given its breadth, that just was something that wasn’t possible.”

rspiteri@postmedia.com