Driving Around the City Makes me Cringe

Driving around the city makes me cringe.  While aggressive and rude drivers often make me crazy, today I am focused on the actual road. I am talking about construction, blocked lanes, potholes and turn signals. If I live in a city I know I have to face some of this, especially in the summer, but the streets around my neighbourhood are a mess and I can’t take it anymore.

Toronto is a vibrant city that is growing exponentially by the day. To accommodate that growth, I know that new houses, office towers and condos must be built. The dense and congested midtown and downtown core are experiencing unprecedented development, and I think that for the most part that is good for the city. The roads also need to be maintained and the hydro needs to be upgraded. I get it. It has to be done. However, there has to be a better way.

I am about to provide a number of examples where construction, development or upgrades are happening in my neighbourhood that could be done better, more efficiently or at least with better communication with the local community.

There is a massive condo tower under construction at the intersection of two major streets near my house. Construction is moving along, but it’s happening at a painful slow speed. In order to maximize the small tract of land on which this building is being built, the developer obviously got a permit from the city to build the new building as close to the existing sidewalk as possible. As a result, the construction crew got permission to include the sidewalk in its enclosed area and to push out the pedestrian zone into a lane of traffic.

That means a major street in the city of Toronto was brought down to one lane during the construction of this massive building. The street has been down to one lane for a long time, with no end in sight. Traffic is backed up for blocks all day every day along this stretch of road. I figure the developer had to pay a large fee to the city to get permission to close a lane of traffic, with no regard to the congestion, stress and frustration it causes thousands of people driving daily. How is this allowed? I just got word another developer is looking to apply for a permit to build three condo towers in the area next. There is no way my neighbours and I will allow this. But that is for another day.

On the subject of closing a lane of traffic on major roads. I understand that it must happen sometimes, in particular when city crews need to fix a pothole, some electrical nearby or other issues that affect city roads. Naturally this causes traffic jams and I understand those lanes must close sometimes. But – if it’s a major street and if the lane closure is at an intersection, could the city block left-hand turns during construction? When there is one lane of traffic and one person wants to turn left then every car behind is stuck. It makes the traffic worse. Driving in the city today I sat in a terrible traffic jam downtown today because of this problem.

Now that I mention left-hand turns, let’s stick with that topic. Why can’t there be more left turn advance signals at major intersections across Toronto? I would be happy to wait an extra 10 seconds at most lights to give cars the opportunity to turn left and clear the road. There are many intersections in the city where the advance arrow exists but only goes on at certain times of the day. Why not all day?

Back to construction. When our current mayor (who I like and I will publicly state I voted for in the last election) was first elected a few years ago he spoke out in support of better coordination and communication between city departments with respect to road construction. If a long-term construction project must take place, be it hydro upgrades, paving, bridge repair or dozens of other projects, how hard could it be to have a working group with a giant map who monitors where the project is happening?

I am boxed in by construction in my neighbourhood right now, between the endless lane closure from the condo on the major street to my west, a massive bridge upgrade on the major street to my east, hydro and electrical upgrades to the side streets to my south and what I think is an electrical and power upgrade to some facility to my southeast.  That is just a small section of the city – I won’t start with all the other projects happening during summer 2017.

I know my rant is falling on deaf ears with the City of Toronto, but I have a feeling that most of you who have read to the end of this blog post agree with me. You are probably nodding your head right now and saying yes yes yes – even if you live in a different city! My rant may not make a difference, but I do feel better just writing about it.

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