Thursday, May 29, 2014

Ontario's Worst Street

Well, look who's late to the party.  CAA has announced its annual list of the 10 worst roads in Ontario and whaddya know, Toronto's Dufferin Street was once again the winner.  Now, let it be known, your old pal Mark was on the Dufferin Street anti-bandwagon three years ago, and that was when it was only Dufferin between King Street and the CNE that was the problem.  Now, virtually all of Dufferin south of Dundas is under construction, making a bad problem even worse.  Getting from the CNE to Bloor is an adventure, and it's been a long time since I've been up Dufferin north of Bloor, but I'm sure it's a jerk.

Yet even though I'm the captain of the S.S. Hates Dufferin, I'd like to take a step back and point out another roadway that's even more worthy of the 'worst street' title.  This would be another Toronto boulevard known as Queens Quay, a.k.a. a dystopian nightmare that is seemingly lasting forever.

Now, in my earlier anti-Dufferin post, I noted that it was unfair to call a street under construction as "the worst" since obviously construction projects don't last forever and we're not seeing the road in its prime state.  Then again...the Queens Quay project is, indeed, lasting forever.  Beginning in June 2013, it will allegedly be finished in July 2015, which is kind of cool since now we can mark July 2015 down as the date when hell freezes over.  The devil can plan ahead to buy a snowblower.  There has already been at least one delay in the project and I'll believe it's done when I actually see it, or at least when I can drive down Queens Quay without screaming into the abyss.

I won't lie, this post *may* be inspired by a particularly awful experience I had on Queens Quay, oh, just last weekend, as a commute that usually takes me 10 minutes instead took upwards of an hour thanks to various redirections and full parking lots.  It was the perfect storm of construction, pedestrians, more construction, extra people down by the waterfront enjoying the long-delayed summer weather, construction, a charity walk and finally, more construction.  I'm actually not just being comically repetitive here --- there were actually (at least) four separate major construction projects going on in the rough rectangle of Bathurst, Queens Quay, Bay Street and Front Street that were holding up traffic.  Add in the extra foot traffic and it got even more awful.  Add in the construction on the Gardiner that will last until 2015 and it's somehow EVEN MORE AWFUL.  You'd think the city wouldn't schedule extra roadwork around an already heavily constructed area but only a non-Torontonian would be so blissfully logical.

The thing with Dufferin is that while the road itself is inarguably terrible, there are lots of easy ways to escape it.  You can always take a side street to get to, say, Dovercourt and try getting south that way to avoid at least some of the traffic mess.  On Queens Quay, however, their latest dreadful touch is that there's nowhere to go.  Once you turn onto Queens Quay from York, you're stuck until you hit Dan Leckie Way just east of Bathurst since all of the side streets are currently blocked off.  You can turn south, sure, but unless you have an aquacar, that's not going to do much good in Lake Ontario.  (Oh man, do I wish I had an aquacar.)  With nowhere to go, you're in for 2.5 kilometres that will feel like 2.5 trips across the solar system.  During that hellish drive last weekend, I had half a mind to get out of my car and start singing 'Everybody Hurts.'

Being next to the scenic lakefront is actually a funny contrast.  On your left, you have the lovely waterfront area with parks, shopping, art galleries, etc.  On your right, you have the Concrete Apocalypse.  What you might not see, however, is actual construction going on, since for all of the time and effort being put into this massive project, it's somewhat rare to actually see workers in action.  One would think that the city would have crews going almost 24/7 to complete this huge overhaul that's clogging up downtown, but there you go with your logic again.  Any of the candidates for Ontario premier or Toronto mayor would get my vote* if they simply promised to create jobs by making a 200% increase in the number of civic construction employees hired.  They can call it the "Let's Get This Shit Done" initiative.

= well, unless it's Hudak or Ford.  The ship has sailed on those two.

In the big picture, Dufferin may indeed be Ontario's worst road.  Right now, in this brief sliver of time, however, I would happily go up and down Dufferin while riding a Big Wheels than dare risk another trek down Queens Quay.

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