Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Toronto's Worst (Stretch Of) Street

I had to specify "stretch" since it isn't fair to condemn all of Harbour Street for the sins of basically just one block.  But Harbour between Lower Simcoe and York has been a nightmare for months now, all due to a perfect storm of construction choices.

First off, a new condo is being built on the tiny sliver of land at York and Harbour.  If you're scratching your head and wondering why anyone would bother with such a tight squeeze of a building, this is Toronto --- if there's a spare square foot of space available, someone will have designs on it.  So this has led to lane closures on both Harbour and Lakeshore, which is just a super idea for two of the city's consistently busiest roads.

Secondly, and perhaps most pressingly, the York Street off-ramp at the Gardiner was demolished a few months back, and replaced just a smoothed-out ramp that takes drivers straight onto Harbour, rather than having them bend around down to York to go north (or turn right onto Harbour or Lakeshore).  A good idea in theory, though the rest for that bendy ramp was to help keep the Gardiner's traffic separate from the usual Harbour traffic to prevent some ungodly merge.

Well, guess what...now there's an ungodly merge.  You have the two-lane Gardiner ramp meeting up with the two lands on Harbour, except it's actually just one lane on Harbour, since the far lane (normally the left-hand turn lane) is sealed off by construction.  So now you have a makeshift left-hand turn lane that is virtually always backed up to Simcoe and beyond, plus two lanes' worth of highway traffic joining the fray.  Of those highway folks, at least several are planning to turn left, so they leave their ramp and immediately try to cut over to the turn lane and butt into the line, leaving the people on the one normal Harbour lane having to try and negotiate into one of the Gardiner's ramp lanes (assuming those lanes are clear due to people trying to get into the left lane).  Compound this with the fact that York Street's lights at the Harbour corner and the Lakeshore corner are set so that seemingly only a few cars at a time can actually make the turn, and it leads to a real kerfuffle.  That's right, a kerfuffle!  Pardon such extreme language.

Adding to the problem is that cars driving along Harbour are no longer allowed to turn right onto Lower Simcoe, as I'd imagine many people did to avoid that snarl.  Turning left form Lower Simcoe onto Queens Quay is something of a nightmare unto itself, given the people consistently clogging those lanes to turn into a parking garage, heavy pedestrian flow going down to the Power Plant and other lake shore attractions, and a very brief traffic light.  So you're basically just going from one mess to another, though at least on Lower Simcoe, you don't have to worry about some jackass from the highway trying to cut across three lanes just to wait to turn left.

FRUSTRATION~!  This condo can't be finished quickly enough.

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