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In anticipation of the future expansion of the highway, the transportation ministry purchased a 91.4-metre-wide (300 ft) right-of-way along the entire length.Generally, the highway occupies only a portion of this allotment.To avoid confusion between carriageways, blue signs are used for the collector lanes and green signs for the express lanes.Unlike the collector lanes, which provide access to every interchange, the express lanes only provide direct access to a select few interchanges.
giving the highway a wide span and four carriageways.
The part of Highway 401 that passes through Toronto is North America's busiest highway, Together with Quebec Autoroute 20, it forms the road transportation backbone of the Quebec City–Windsor Corridor, along which over half of Canada's population resides and is also a Core Route in the National Highway System of Canada.
The route is maintained by the Ministry of Transportation of Ontario (MTO) and patrolled by the Ontario Provincial Police.
Access between the two is provided by transfers, which are strategically placed to prevent disruptions caused by closely spaced interchanges.
The overall purpose of the collector-express system is to maximize traffic flow for both local and long-distance traffic.