Making History

By now you’re probably aware that Phase 1 of the Highway 407 East Project has been completed and is officially opened to traffic. This section includes Highway 407 from Brock Road in Pickering to Harmony Road in Oshawa, as well as Highway 412, which connects Highway 407 and the 401. Some think the best part of the opening may just be that the use of these sections is toll free until the new year. “Free” is hard to argue with, but a recent trip to Port Perry from Pickering was shortened by a minimum of half an hour by taking advantage of the 412 arm from the 401 to the 407, then scooting down the 407 to Simcoe Street in Oshawa and emerging at Columbus. No stop signs! No red lights! No bumper-to-bumper traffic to contend with through that whole section!

The Saturday morning before the highway officially opened (June 18, 2016) locals were invited to test it out. The catch was: no vehicles allowed. You could walk, run, cycle, roller blade, wheel, skateboard or anything else you could think of that didn’t involve a motor vehicle. It was a great opportunity to be part of history. Stacee-Free Team members Kathy (Lapointe) and Anna (Stinson) were both up to the challenge. They arrived prepared, with walking shoes, bottles of water and sunglasses.

walking the 407

Kathy & Anna Ready To Conquer The 407

Vehicles were not allowed on the highway and there was no parking on site, so the trusty Mincom Vehicle had to sit this one out. Parking was provided at two locations and free shuttle buses ran back and forth for the duration.
riding the big girl bus
It had been some time since either one of our ladies had been on a school bus but they quickly adapted. The buses dropped everyone off on the highway under the Baldwin Street overpass.
Baldwin street
It was a sight to see. It seemed that all of Whitby had come out to participate. Young and old, men and women and lots of kids. Couples strolled or skated together and generations of families walked, rode and wheeled together. Friends and fitness groups enjoyed every minute of it.
lots of people
GENERATIONs
boot camp
Even the four-legged family members enjoyed themselves.
dog and skate boarder
They came on bikes of all sizes and numbers of wheels, on skateboards, roller blades, roller skates and scooters.
bicycles and roller skates
roller blades
There was a lot to do and see in both directions.
map
Our young ladies headed east first until they reached Thickson Road and their cue to turn around.
kathy & anna walking
Thickson Road
407 truck
Emergency vehicles and personal were on hand – just in case. When they weren’t seeing to scrapes and over-heating, they were letting the kids tour their rides.
emergency
ambulance
Ambulance
Even Molly the Fire Dog was there, complete with special shoes to make sure she didn’t burn her paws.
Molly the Fire Dog
It was hot! Really hot and sunny. With a wide-open road it was necessary to grab any bit of shade you could.
shade
The organizers were prepared and had water stations throughout the entire length of the route. They also had a cart trolling up and down, passing out bottles of water along the way.
water stations
The complimentary ice cream truck was a really popular stop to cool down.
icecream for everyone
As you headed west you could play games at the Camp Activities stop.
games on the 407
golfWith an invitation like this…
chalk on the 407
who could resist leaving their mark? Not us!
Mincom chalk on the 407
Ashburn Road marked the Western most point with another subtle hint to turn around.
Ashburn Road
blockade
From end to end you could never be sure what you were going to see. People had some pretty clever ideas about how to get around. These young ladies, known as 2 Cute 4 Country, and their Dad, sported around in something he created for wheel chair users to have a bit of fun.
2 Cute 4 Country
We never did find out what this was!
weird car
We were also able to confirm that it doesn’t matter how old you are. If you’re driving a race car…it’s going to break down.
car breaks down on 407
This one has to be one of the most Canadian sights to be seen on the 407 this day…a man and his son playing hockey.
407 hockey
Hot and happy they were able to be part of this historic day, Kathy and Anna proudly took to the podium to have their achievement documented.
I walked the 407
 Anna was thrilled with their adventure,
“Skateboards, trikes, strollers, walkers, runners, oh my! What a glorious day for a fabulous community event. It was really well-planned and executed.  I thoroughly enjoyed watching and interacting with so many creative people.”
For Kathy the day brought back fond memories,
“The anticipation and excitement of walking on the New Hwy 407 was reminiscent of an elementary school bus trip, starting with the yellow school bus shuttle to the 407 asphalt. It wasn’t planes, trains and automobiles, but bikes, roller skates, scooters and miniature electric cars. It was a fantastic 30 minute walk for us on a beautiful day. The event was a success.”
Don’t forget, if you missed all the fun, you can still make history by driving on the 407 East. The historical part? It’s FREE until the New Year!

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