Category Archives: SPOTLIGHT

Blackbird Infrastructure Group (BBI) to Hold Public Information Centre

With the launch of their website at, Blackbird Infrastructure Group (BBI) announces their first opportunity for community consultation.  The purpose of BBI’s Public Information Centre (PIC) is to obtain comments on selected construction activities scheduled to start in 2015.  The PIC will be held July 6, 2015 at the Solina Community Hall, Hampton and on July 8, 2015 at the Garnett B. Rickard Recreation Complex, Bowmanville.  Click here for more information.


CONTRACT AWARDED FOR PHASE 2 OF HIGHWAY 407 EAST PROJECT – Blackbird Infrastructure 407 General Partnership (Blackbird Infrastructure Group) has signed a fixed-priced contract to design, build, finance and maintain the Highway 407 East Phase 2 Project. The Blackbird Infrastructure Group includes:

  • Developer: Holcim (Canada) Inc. and Cintra Infraestructuras Internacional, S.L.
  • Constructors: Dufferin Construction Company, a division of Holcim (Canada) Inc. and Ferrovial Agroman Canada
  • Designers: Urban Systems, AIA Engineers and Louis Berger Group
  • Maintenance: Holcim (Canada) Inc. and Cintra Infraestructuras Internacional, S.L.

New Highway Numbers

The Highway 407 East project includes two north-south highways connecting Highway 407 to Highway 401. To ensure navigational clarity and consistency to travellers, a more conventional numbering system was required prior to Phase 1 opening to traffic. The numbers are typical of 400 series freeways within the Province. The selection of Highway 412 was based on the common practice of assigning a 400 series number in accordance with an existing roadway running parallel with the new highway (i.e., Highway 12 / Durham Rd 12 runs parallel). Highway 418 was selected as it is unlikely to cause conflict with any current or future potential 400-series highway.

Progress for next phase of the Highway 407 East project

Blackbird Infrastructure Group selected as the preferred proponent to design, build, finance and maintain the Highway 407 East Phase 2 project. This means Blackbird Infrastructure Group is the highest ranked bidder and will now proceed to negotiate a final contract.
The Blackbird Infrastructure Group team includes:

  • Developer: Holcim (Canada) Inc. and Cintra Infraestructuras
  • Constructors: Dufferin Construction Company and Ferrovial Agroman Canada
  •  Designers: Urban System, AIA Engineers and Louis Berger Group
  • Maintainers: Holcim (Canada) Inc. and Cintra Infraestructuras

Over the next several weeks, Infrastructure Ontario and the Ministry of Transportation will negotiate contract details with Blackbird Infrastructure Group. The cost of the project will be announced publicly following financial close this winter signaling the contract has been signed and the project’s costs finalized.


On Tuesday, February 3, 2015, at 10:00 a.m., a hearing will commence at the Region of Durham Headquarters Council Chambers, 605 Rossland Road East in Whitby to seek Ontario Municipal approval to close various roads that intersect or run into Highway 407 from Harmony Road to Highway 35/115, including a link which connects to the Highway 407 approximately 1.0 to 1.5 km east of Courtice Road extending southwards to Highway 401. Any person may on or before January 20, 2015 submit their objection to the approval, together with a statement of the reasons for such objection, by registered mail, fax or hand deliver to the Ontario Municipal Board, 655 Bay Street, Suite 1500, Toronto, ON M5G 1E5 (fax: 416-326-5370) and to John MacKinnon, P.Eng., Senior Project Engineer, Ministry of Transportation, 1201 Wilson Avenue, Building D, 7th Floor, Downsview, ON M3M 1J8 (tel: 416-235-5068, fax: 416-235-4267). All submissions must quote OMB Case No. MM140073.

Up Up and Installed

Girders have been placed for the New Lake Ridge Road/ Highway 401 Underpass.

As part of Highway 407 project, Highway 401 is being realigned northerly to accommodate the interchange for the Highway 401 / Highway 407 north-south connection in Whitby (Highway 412). The Highway 401 / Highway 412 interchange is located immediately east of Lake Ridge Road.

In relation to this work, Lake Ridge Road crossing over Highway 401 is also being realigned to include a partial interchange connection to Highway 401. This new underpass will replace the old Lake Ridge Road underpass and will also make room for the Highway 412 ramps.

Highway 407 Phase 1

The map on the left shows the Highway 407 Phase 1 schematic and the right picture is an aerial shot where the new alignment of Highway 401 at Lake Ridge Road is visible.

Highway 407 Phase 1

Girders being moved and placed on the bridge piers.

Ten girders (pre-stressed reinforced concrete beams – NU girders) were installed on September 9 and on September 11, 2014 between midnight and 5:00am, at the new Lake Ridge Road/Highway 401 underpass structure. The photographs above were taken during the girder installations.

In order to safely install girders over Highway 401, all lanes in eastbound and westbound direction were temporarily closed for up to 15 minutes in duration with the assistance of OPP. Each girder was moved onto the westbound lanes of Highway 401, and then placed on the bridge piers. The girders (with an approximate length of 46 metres – half as long as a football field) were lifted and placed individually by two heavy-lift cranes located on either side of Highway 401.

After each girder installation, OPP re-opened Highway 401 to allow queues to clear. Once free flow conditions were maintained OPP deployed another full closure.

In a well-orchestrated operation, all the girders were placed as scheduled in the time allotted. Highway 401 was fully opened to traffic on each day before the start of the morning commute without any major disruption to the travelling public. Well done to all involved!

Saving species at risk, one butternut at a time

Butternut Trees Butternut Trees (Juglans cinerea) have been identified within the Highway 407 transportation corridor. Butternut Trees like moist, well drained, silty or sandy soils and are usually found in open areas like agricultural lands, floodplains and forest edges.

Many of Ontario’s Butternut Trees are infected with a fungus known as butternut canker, suspected to be of Asian origin, which often results in tree mortality. Surveys have shown that most Butternut Trees are infected, while approximately one-third have not survived. In addition, seed availability, extreme weather and insect damage have impacted the viability of the species. Naturally occurring Butternut Trees are protected under the Endangered Species Act, 2007.

Butternut Trees The Ministry of Transportation (MTO) has been working diligently with the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) to acquire permits that will see: planting healthy trees on mitigation lands adjacent to the Highway 407 corridor which will be protected in perpetuity; cloning twigs from disease-resistant Butternut Trees as part of the Butternut Tree Archive Program; and transplanting healthy seedlings obtained from the highway corridor.

Butternut Trees

A permit was issued to MTO under S.17 (2)(c) of the Endangered Species Act, 2007, for the displacement of the Butternut Trees within the Highway 407 corridor. There were 285 Butternut Trees identified within the highway corridor. MTO will be planting at least 600 Butternut Trees, accompanied by over 1200 companion trees. Companion tree species include Bitternut Hickory, White Ash, Sugar Maple, Basswood, White Elm, Red Oak, Black Walnut, Black Cherry, Hop Hornbeam, Yellow Birch, and White Pine.

Nine healthy Butternut Tree cuttings were cloned as part of the Butternut Tree Archive Program. The program involves finding trees that appear disease-free in the wild. Cuttings are taken from the tips of the tree branches to produce genetic copies of these apparently-resistant trees by grafting them onto black walnut tree roots. The intent is to produce healthy seeds for the future. MTO will also be conducting a 5-year Butternut Tree Monitoring Program.


  • Butternut Trees produce a nut which is an important food source for birds, squirrels, and other small mammals.
  • The oil from the butternut was used by Aboriginal people for cooking, hair dressing, leather making and polishing tools. The oil was also used to treat toothaches, injuries and digestive problems.
  • Carvers and wood workers value the wood for its softness, colour and varied textures.


Moving forward on Highway 407

On April 15, 2014, Minister Glen Murray announced the release of a request for proposals for Highway 407 Phase 2, which will extend the highway about 23 kilometres eastward from Harmony Road in Oshawa to Highway 35/115 in Clarington.

The Highway 407 Phase 2 project is proceeding under Infrastructure Ontario’s design, build, finance, maintain (DBFM) model. Three companies have been short-listed to deliver the project – Blackbird Infrastructure Group, East End Transportation Group and 407E Infrastructure Group.

Phase 2 will have eight interchanges including three complex freeway-to-freeway interchanges and a 10-kilometre north-south highway, Highway 418, to connect it to Highway 401. The section from Harmony Road to Highway 418 is expected to be open to traffic in late 2017, with the remaining portions to be completed by late 2020.

For more information, visit:

Protecting Barn Swallows

Barn Swallow Barn swallows are medium sized songbirds easily recognizable by their distinct colours, including blue backs, orange bellies, and their deeply forked tails. During the spring and summer months, they breed throughout most of Canada and the United States, while winters are spent in Central and South America.

Barn Swallow

Barn swallows build their nests by attaching mud pellets to ledges or other suitable surfaces on human-made structures such as barns, garages, bridges, and culverts. Nests are usually located in close proximity to open habitats for foraging, such as grassy fields, agricultural land, lake and river shorelines, wetlands, and cleared rights-of-way.

Although they are the most widespread species of swallow in the world, barn swallow populations have recently undergone significant declines in Canada. The cause of this decline is not well understood. Potential threats include loss of nesting and foraging habitat, declining insect populations, climate change, and issues with wintering grounds in Central and South America. Human interference, including the removal of nests from human made structures, may also impact populations, but is unlikely to explain long term declines.

In 2012, barn swallow was listed as a threatened species in Ontario. As part of Highway 407 Phase 1, the Ministry of Transportation (MTO) submitted a proposal to the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) to provide overall benefit for barn swallow, and a permit under the Endangered Species Act, 2007 was issued by MNR.

Barn Swallow

Barn Swallow In 2013, barn swallow structures were installed throughout the Highway 407 Phase 1 corridor, as replacement habitat for structures demolished as part of the Highway 407 construction.

The size and location of structures was determined based on pre-construction surveys and in consultation with MNR. Structures were located adjacent to riparian habitat along watercourses or wetlands, as well as open fields for foraging. 

The structures were designed to accommodate the installation of artificial nest cups. The placement of these nest cups limits the exposure of the nesting swallow to various predator species.Barn Swallow Barn Swallow

The distance between the ceiling and each nest cup rim allows for barn swallows to build a mud dam along the nest cup rim.

There are two types of structures, large and small. The small structures have 12 nest cups, while the large structures have up to 64. There are also 2 different layouts for the nesting cups, a staggered pattern and a symmetrical pattern.

The overall Highway 407 project is still in the active construction phase and as a result, monitoring has been limited to daily inspections and occurrence records documented in an annual report. Post-construction monitoring will provide valuable information on the effectiveness of the different structure sizes, cup placements and foraging habitat.


  • Barn swallows are the most widespread species of swallow in the world, found on every continent except Antarctica.
  • In Canada, there has been an overall decline in population of nearly 80% over 40 years (1970
    to 2009).
  • Barn swallows often reuse nests from previous years.


Stormwater Treatment Pilot Project

The Ministry of Transportation and the University of Guelph have partnered together to carry out a stormwater treatment research pilot project. This project is designed to assess the performance of two innovative technologies – compost filters socks and swale liners – in an active multi-lane highway corridor.

The results of this research will help identify the type of ditch liners to be considered on Highway 407 and confirm whether compost filter socks would be a beneficial addition to the stormwater management strategy.

A pilot project was implemented in 2012 to assess the performance of compost filters socks and swale liners for treating stormwater in an active multi-lane highway corridor. The ditch liner pilot project was designed in conjunction with researchers at the University of Guelph and is located in the southeast quadrant of Highway 401 and Highway 6.

Hani Farghaly is the Ministry of Transportation Project Lead on the pilot project. A research team from the University of Guelph, under the direction of Dr. Bahram Gharabaghi is involved in monitoring and data interpretation.

Construction was completed at the end of August 2012. Instrumentation installation and testing was done during the months of September and October and additional test equipment is currently being installed to collect additional information for the liner component of the project. This work should be completed by the end of November 2013. Instrumentation to monitor the compost filter socks within the bypass channel was also installed during the Summer of 2013.

The pilot project ditch is 120 meters long and is parallel to Highway 401 at the base of the Highway 401 embankment. The drainage area contributing to the ditch liner pilot project consists of two Highway 401 East Bound lanes, the speed change lane from the North/South-East Ramp, the paved shoulder and the grassed embankment. Surface runoff flows across the roadway, down the embankment and into the test ditch.

The test ditch is comprised of the following:

  • The site area, divided into 6 sections, with liners that are drained by a diameter perforated pipe.
  • A composite filter sock (bio-filter) located across the test ditch at the transition zone between each of the 6 sections.
  • Pipes from each test section routed to a monitoring chamber.
  • The following parameters are recorded in the monitoring chamber:
    • depth – used to determine flow rate
    • conductivity – as a measure of chloride
    • turbidity – as a measure of total suspended solids
    • temperature.
  • There is a catch basin situated at the base of the Highway 401 embankment just downstream of the test ditch. The runoff captured by the catch basin is routed to the monitoring chamber as a sample of untreated runoff and will be monitored the same as the pipes from the test sections.

For more information on this project, please contact:

Roadside ditch site with compost filter socks image

Roadside ditch site with compost filter socks

Inside test chamber image

Inside test chamber