Although never far from the surface, if you ever want to scratch open the drivers’ sense of entitlement, ask one How’s it going? during their favourite time of the year, construction season.
2014 is turning out to be doozy.
“This is not how you run a city,” mayoral candidate and noted transportation expert John Tory pronounced in the wake of the news there’d be concurrent construction on both the Gardiner Expressway and Lake Shore Boulevard. “Torontonians shouldn’t be forced to arrive late for work because of the lack of thought or planning by city officials. Sadly, the situation on our major roads is now once again a world-class mess.”
Ahh, there it is. Always with the world-class, one way or another. And by Torontonians, Mr. Tory means car-driving Torontonians of course.
“When we should have been planning ahead and making calculated decisions to address congestion, this administration has provided poor judgment by compounding gridlock on our roads,” another mayoral candidate and one with some actual municipal governance under her belt, Councillor Karen Stintz said. “We have a responsibility to ensure residents have options to move in and out of the city. Today, we have created roadblocks.”
They do, Councillor Stintz. It’s called getting out of their cars and using public transit.
Even noted cyclist and alleged car hater, Olivia Chow (also running for mayor) got in on the indignant act. “My traffic plan says you can’t shut a street (Lake Shore) if used to avoid one (Gardiner) under construction,” Ms. Chow stated on the Twitter.
With everyone jumping on the city staff kicking bandwagon over this, obviously somebody screwed up, somebody fell asleep at the switch. The mistake is so glaring, there’s no way anyone who was paying any attention would’ve allowed it to happen. This requires a strongly worded admonishment.
“Believe it or not, I have confirmed that the office running the smaller Lakeshore job did not communicate with the office running the bigger Gardiner job, which is simply unreal,” John Tory said in his e-mail blast blast. “As mayor I will ensure this will never be repeated.”
Or “completely untrue”, depending on whom you ask.
“I’m at the table for both of these,” said General Manager of Transportation Services, Stephen Buckley. “However, the reality is we needed to get the Gardiner work going, and we needed to get the Lake Shore work done. Folks want the infrastructure to be upgraded and put in good condition. Unfortunately these are both in the same location.”
Folks want their infrastructure upgraded, and want it upgraded at their convenience.
Mr. Buckley went on to say that, “The two specific teams carrying out the Gardiner and Lake Shore work were fully aware of what was going on and meeting regularly.”
Between the long harsh winter just past and the upcoming PanAm Games next summer, the city is obviously facing something of a construction crunch. Given there’s going to be work on the Gardiner well into the next decade, chances are, more overlaps in our future. That just comes with aging infrastructure over-burdened by usage.
Only in car commercials are our roads ever open and maintenance free.
“This drives people crazy,” said Public Works and Infrastructure Chair and automobile nut, Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong, “it drives me crazy and hopefully an important lesson has been learned and will be applied.”
And what lesson would that be, councillor?
“Some disruption with the daytime Lake Shore work,” suggests Mr. Buckley who is being paid to manage road work. Much of the work is being done overnight. No lanes would be closed going in the direction of rush hour traffic. The city, he said, is keeping an eye on the situation. So far, during the day, delays on Lake Shore were “about a minute long.”
“This is probably the worst of it, we’re not seeing significant delays,” Mr. Buckley claims.
Insignificant delays and maximum outrage.
Stirring up driver resentment is a potent political tactic. Just ask Rob Ford. War. On. The. Car.
It feeds into that ingrained sense of privilege that once you’re behind the wheel of your automobile, nothing and no one should obstruct your ease of movement between point A and point B. I pay my taxes, dammit! I shouldn’t be inconvenienced.
The thing is, hundreds of thousands of other drivers believe the exact same thing at the exact same time of day, every day. As that old saying goes, you’re not stuck in traffic, you are traffic.
The only way we’re going to actually address the soul-sucking, business-hampering congestion that is plaguing us now is to confront the entitlement of the car driver head-on. We cannot road build our way out of this. The private automobile is the least efficient and least cost-effective way to move people and goods around this region. Leadership means acknowledging that and offering up real alternatives.
What we’re getting right now is craven opportunism and political posturing. A supreme silly season during peak construction season.
– under constructionally submitted by Cityslikr