Gridlock: a conspiracy between construction and speed traps?

Written by on April 21, 2013 in Perspectives, Trends - 16 Comments

Construction workersLast week, some poor schmuck got caught speeding on Toronto’s Gardiner Expressway at 167 km/h. It was 3:45 a.m. on a Friday. Because that’s the only time that you can speed anywhere in this city.

It’s no joke that the city of Toronto has two seasons – winter and construction. By early April, the landscape is already peppered with bulldozers and backhoes, orange traffic cones, men in fluorescent vests and hardhats.  The jarring cacophony of jackhammers fills the cool spring air. It warms the heart to know the city is building upward and onward, but it’s also nonplussing.

According to the most recent survey by TomTom, those GPS gurus, Toronto is the second worst city in Canada for gridlock, and the sixth worst in North America. Add to this the construction schedule – 100 kilometres of city roads to be resurfaced. There will be more people working on the roads than actually traversing them.Traffic

The third weekend in April shaped up to be ominous. The major artery of Yonge Street was closed on Sunday for a marathon, while the Yonge-University subway line was scheduled to be closed all weekend. The good news was, GO train service would be available every 30 minutes. This was ostensibly to allow for escape from the impenetrable downtown core.

Fortunately, common sense prevailed – subway work was postponed, and the trains continued to run as capably as the marathoners.

But it’s only April – we still have five to six months of insane-making gridlock to endure. And this, in the sauna that is Toronto in the summer.

imgresLet’s go back to our speeding schmuckster. It seems Toronto also has the most speed traps in all of North America – that’s according to the National Association of Motorists. They found that Toronto boasts three times more speed traps than in LA, Montreal and New York City – COMBINED.

How does that work? Do they set up fishing holes at the few places in the city where you can actually speed? Maybe, people are speeding because they’ve just spent an hour in gridlock and are late. Could it be a huge conspiracy?

Mess up the roads.  Shut down the transit. Make it unthinkable for ordinary citizens to get from Point A to Point B in a reasonable amount of time. (let’s not forget that Toronto also has one of the worst commuting times in Canada – 45 minutes getting to work.)

It’s going to be a hot summer. Regardless of the temperature.


16 Comments on "Gridlock: a conspiracy between construction and speed traps?"

  1. Jeri April 22, 2013 at 7:46 pm · Reply

    One of the things I like most about working from home is not having to put up with the hassle of a commute!

    • Krystyna Lagowski April 29, 2013 at 1:55 am · Reply

      Amen to that, Jeri. The only way I can bear to watch roadwork is from the comfort of my livingroom!

  2. Jon Jefferson April 22, 2013 at 8:01 pm · Reply

    This reminds me of all the potholes I now have to avoid. Road construction season is upon us.

    • Krystyna Lagowski April 29, 2013 at 1:54 am · Reply

      There are few things worse for your car than going over potholes. No matter how mild the winter, they will sprout in the spring along with the dandelions!

  3. Debra Yearwood April 23, 2013 at 1:23 pm · Reply

    Yikes! I’m with Jeri, working from home allows me to avoid that frustration, that and living in a smaller city.

    • Krystyna Lagowski April 29, 2013 at 1:51 am · Reply

      I think that’s why more people will eventually spend at least part of their working life telecommuting – if only to get off the roads. Maybe then the roads won’t need so much repair!

  4. Susan Cooper April 25, 2013 at 4:45 am · Reply

    I whole heartedly agree with Jeri that I love the fact that my commute consists of walking down stairs to my office. I have always commuted in my professional life an have faced many days of congestion and road blocks. 🙂

    • Krystyna Lagowski April 29, 2013 at 1:49 am · Reply

      I’m with you, Susan! I used to commute to a job over an hour each way twice a day, and it was the worst. Made my blood pressure skyrocket, and didn’t do much for the car either. Thank goodness I don’t have to worry about that any more – but I feel sorry for those who have no choice but to brave the gridlock.

  5. A.K.Andrew April 25, 2013 at 7:09 am · Reply

    I love your definition of the two seasons of Toronto – cracked me up. I’ve often wondered on the conspiracy theory of roadworks myself. They are often done in the UK at the most bizarre times- laying asphalt in winter? don’t think it’s gonna last. And of course it doesn’t. Jobs for the boys in a never ending cycle of patch it poorly & fix it often.

    • Krystyna Lagowski April 29, 2013 at 1:47 am · Reply

      Good heavens, that’s just bonkers to put down asphalt in cold weather! Sounds like a make-work project to me, and you can be sure someone’s pockets are being lined. I suppose we should be happy it also creates jobs and keeps the economy going…

  6. Doreen Pendgracs April 27, 2013 at 8:14 pm · Reply

    Wonderfully written piece, Krystyna.

    I’ve been working from home now for 20 years, so a daily commute doesn’t apply to me. But road construction season certainly does!

    We have such dreadful winters in MB that the roads suffer severe damage, and show themselves in spring with numerous potholes and sinkholes large enough to sink one of those small cars you’ve written about.

    I hope my future holds living on an island somewhere, where the only “commute” I need to do is from the fridge to my lounge chair or from the lounger to the water. Cheers!

    • Krystyna Lagowski April 29, 2013 at 1:40 am · Reply

      Thank you, Doreen! Those of us who work from home are indeed lucky, but eventually we do have to venture out on the roads. You’d think by now someone would have invented a hardy road material that’s impervious to the elements. Let me know if you ever land that island, and maybe I’ll come out to visit with a picnic basket : )

  7. Becc April 29, 2013 at 3:54 am · Reply

    I loved the conspiracy aspect. I do wonder this myself, what bloody benefit is it to anyone to lock up your city in gridlock?
    I like the idea of a road material that’s impervious to the elements – why hasn’t someone already thought of that?

  8. Arleen June 28, 2013 at 10:31 pm · Reply

    The US is not far behind Toronto. I don’t think we have the two seasons like you construction and winter. We have just one construction. It never seizes to amaze me that when I pass a construction area, I never really see anyone working. They are talking or directing traffic poorly. The New Jersey turnpike has been under construction for a year. One of the local highways were under construction for almost 2years, We all thought we were getting another lane, instead the lane is for emergency vehicles. We have another issue here which is potholes, don’t get me started on those. Loved your post

  9. Vince September 9, 2013 at 3:00 pm · Reply

    I am sure that with all the rubber going into dumps they could build fairly durable roads from a mixture. The problem is what lies beneath the asphalt, if the fill is not stable you end up with a sink hole…look at the situation in Florida.

    • Krystyna Lagowski September 10, 2013 at 6:02 pm · Reply

      Now that’s a sobering thought! As far as I can tell, the city is spending a ton of money to fix our roads – they better last for a good, long time and not cause any more grief.

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