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September 2010
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What Toronto Really Needs

I happened to be driving down the Allen Expressway when Toronto mayoral candidate Rocco Rossi announced that if he’s elected he will propose the extension of the Allen Expressway from it’s terminus at Eglinton down to the Gardiner Expressway. His vision is to tunnel from the existing terminus down to the Gardiner. (Uhhh… the Gardiner is elevated, I’d say already this vision was not too well thought out). His idea is to fund it through a public-private partnership; so you’d likely be expected to pay to drive through the tunnel, and probably on the existing Allan Expressway.

A little history…

The Allen Expressway was originally designed to be a connection from the 401 all the way down to the Gardiner, known as the Spadina expressway. Construction began in 1963. Homes were demolished, neighbourhoods destroyed and air pollution was increasing for surrounding residents. Opposition continued to mount. Modifications to the Spadina Expressway were made in 1964, it meant the expropriation and demolition of more homes. by 1966 the city opened the first section from Wilson Avenue down to Lawrence, with a massive, highly efficient connection with the 401. Construction down to Eglinton continued but in 1969 a group led by Alan Powell and Jane Jacobs known as the “Stop Spadina, Save Our City Co-ordinating Committee” (SSSOCCC) formed committed to halting the progress of the Spadina Expressway.

Based on the Eglinton terminus the SSSOCCC won.

What does Toronto really need?

Does Toronto need a buried expressway? Didn’t we learn enough from Boston’s Big Dig? The multi-billion dollar project was way over budget, has not improved efficiency and has not helped reconnect citizens to the waterfront.

Toronto needs roads to function more efficiently, better bus transportation on existing roads and traffic engineers to work together to get our city moving again, from pedestrians, to cyclists, to buses and finally vehicles.

Toronto needs a mayor who can think about what the citizens really need. Do they need their taxes raised to fund more projects? Or do they need a mayor who can work with what the city already has and make it better?

Give me a KISS

Do you remember when you were much younger and someone told you to follow the KISS principle? Keep It Simple Stupid. While I was driving back from class I thought of a few things the city could do before it was forced to construct an underground expressway

  • Eliminate illegal parking/stopping on streets during day hours: Bathurst was crawling today. Why? Because a delivery truck decided to park facing south on the northbound lanes. Instead of two lanes of traffic, it was reduced to one. In addition the one lane competed for right turn space, since the driver had parked so close to the intersection. Flow would have been uninterrupted without the truck illegally stopped.
  • Dedicated Pedestrian Crossing at all major intersections: I wrote a blog on this before. The Dundas square intersection almost ‘gets’ it. But instead there should be no pedestrian crossing when traffic is moving. It is safer for pedestrians to cross when the intersection is completely stopped.
  • Eliminate Street Parking: You cut capacity in half with street parking. Facilities can be built in nearby areas. I see the other side of the argument, that it hurts businesses where street parking has been eliminated. However, the loss of business due to congestion is likely greater than the cost of lost business.
  • Dedicated Bus and Carpool lanes: Their benefits are well documented and require little infrastructure for implementation.
  • Signal Timing: Ever feel like you get a green light as the one in front of you turns red? City Traffic Engineers need to set routes as ‘main lines.’ Consecutive green lights would allow people to come into and out of the city easily.

Instead of dreaming of elaborate, expensive, complicated infrastructure, lets go back to the basics. Instead the city should work with its existing infrastructure. Make the roads move efficiently. Make buses move along those routes efficiently. Make it attractive to live in the city again. Work with all the great infrastructure that exists in the city before we bring in more.

Maybe Rossi has a vision. Or maybe he thinks a massive elevator will transport vehicles up to meet the Gardiner.


Pingback from Sasha on the Street » You Only Get One Vote…Use it Wisely
Time September 21, 2010 at 1:23 pm

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