Ontario will widen 18 kilometres of Highway 401 west of the city to try to ease gridlock, the province's transportation minister said Monday.

Steven Del Duca told reporters that the planned expansion will run from Mississauga to Milton and means there will be new general-purpose and high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes in each direction.

"Highway 401 is a critical highway for commuters and commercial traffic travelling throughout Ontario and the United States," Del Duca said on the parking deck of a bank building in Mississauga.

"The addition of both HOV and general purpose lanes is further proof of the province's commitment to making improvements that will help us manage congestion and improve mobility in the daily commutes of Ontarians travelling across the region."

Del Duca said the project is designed to ease congestion on the highway, allow for the more efficient transportation of goods and to accommodate the growing population of the western portion of the Greater Toronto Area.

According to the transportation minister, an average of 108,000 to 188,000 vehicles travel daily on Highway 401 in Peel and Halton regions.

The project means the existing six-lane configuration will be widened to:

  • 12 lanes from the Credit River to Winston Churchill Boulevard.
  • 10 lanes from Winston Churchill Boulevard to the Highway 407 ETR and Highway 401 interchange.
  • 12 lanes from the Highway 407 ETR and Highway 401 interchange to James Snow Parkway.
  • 10 lanes from the James Snow Parkway to Regional Road 25.

​The government has issued what it calls a "request for qualifications" to design, build and finance the project, Del Duca said.

It's the first step to get construction underway, he said.

Brampton Mayor Linda Jeffrey, Halton MPP Indira Naidoo-Harris and Mississauga-Streetsville MPP Bob Delaney joined Del Duca at the announcement.

Naidoo-Harris and Delaney said Milton and Mississauga are both dealing with traffic gridlock and commuters will welcome the expansion.

"Our residents grasp and support the short-term construction inconvenience, noise and dust in return for the long-term ease of access, saving of time and better use of our 401 traffic artery," Delaney said.