Eastern Ontario is not known for its bullfights or tapas cuisine, but its highways have something in common with Spain.
Signage along Highways 417 and 34 indicates that highway maintenance is being done by a company called Ferrovial Services. It is a division of Ferrovial, a large infrastructure conglomerate based in Spain that owns and operates highways all over the world.
For several years, Ministry of Transportation of Ontario (MTO) policy has been to contract out nearly all highway maintenance operations to private companies.
According to MTO Eastern Region Communications Coordinator Brandy Duhaime, the previous maintenance contract the MTO had with a different company ended in 2016 by mutual agreement between the ministry and the contractor. As a “bridging strategy,” the MTO managed the highway directly for nearly three years until a new contractor was selected. The current contract with Ferrovial Services took effect on May 1, 2019 and is worth $164,173,842.55 for seven years, with the option to extend.
Cintra is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Ferrovial. It owns 43.2 per cent of the 407 ETR Concession Company Limited, which manages a 108-kilometre section of the 407 Express Toll Route (407 ETR) in the Toronto area. That section of highway was controversially leased to private interests in 1999 for 99 years after it had been financed with public funds. All further expansions of the 407 have remained under public ownership and management.
The local highways maintained by Ferrovial remain provincially-owned but regular maintenance, including during the winter, is provided by private interests.