Today I drove to a store to run an errand and had to detour due to major construction. They’re laying new tracks for the streetcars.
This construction has been ongoing for months.
As a result, the traffic going east or westbound on that road, called Lake Shore, needed to find an alternate route. For me, that meant driving north on a residential street to the parallel road, called Birningham, to drive west bound for about ten blocks until I could turn south again back onto Lake Shore where my destination was located.
Imagine my surprise when I found blue pipes, the type they use for residential water underneath the streets, all stacked neatly along Birningham where they will lay the new pipe.
So, that parallel road, which is currently used as backup to get around the construction on Lake Shore, will become unavailable in the coming week.
I contemplated what exactly happened in the city’s urban planning offices when these conflicting forms of non-emergency construction begins. An emergency would be a water-main break, but laying pipe to replace old pipe is something that required bureaucratic planning I would think, right?
The timing is awful. The disruption for the locals, not to mention the driving-through traffic trying to connect from the suburbs with the city has been excessive. Now, the reduced traffic option of the backup road on Birningham will result in more detours – longer drives – at a time when gasoline prices are already skyrocketing. Everyone’s drive to anywhere has increased by a minimum of 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, the track laying portion on Lake Shore crosses a major intersection which has two bus stops at opposing corners. Just south of that intersection is a catholic elementary school and behind it, a catholic high school. I will refrain from guessing how many school buses will be driving to those two schools two weeks from today, through the blocked part of the construction on Lake Shore…
Just west of that intersection is a major community college. Just north of that intersection is a public high school, a community center with a pool, a film school which is a part of the college, and a four-pad arena.
The northbound road that is affected partially by the track laying has a circular thingy where the streetcar sometimes turns around if it’s not scheduled to continue all the way to the western boundaries of the city limits. That northbound road is called Kipling. Kipling services buses which bring people down to the community college from the underground subway further north, mostly students and staff for the college.
Anyway, the entire neighbourhood is upside down because of this construction which doesn’t look anywhere near completed. This of course is a concern for the neighbourhood because school starts in the first week of September, two weeks away, and there will be an influx of more traffic into the area. Many teachers and profs commute in from out of town. Also, with the pandemic restrictions finally lifted, the influx of out of town students to the college will bring lots and lots of foot traffic into the area, further causing commuter traffic chaos.
Did I mention just a few minutes past the track laying construction, they’re building a multitude of new condos and town homes? Each with a parking space? Add to the ongoing track laying construction, and now the water pipe construction on the parallel road, these new homes will create further traffic confusion to an already heavily congested part of the city.
By the way, there is also a train station not far from the college, which of course the buses/streetcars service (as well as commuter traffic from the burbs).
There is never enough parking anyway to begin with…
Some of you know I no longer live permanently in the family home in the city, but I am here this week for a variety of reasons including professional dog sitting and child-minding while half the family is out of town. Driving through these traffic-congested alternate routes has been eye-opening and, as stated at the top of this post, makes me wonder what the state of the urban planning departments is like. Are they consulting with the various timelines of the many construction companies working on multiple, often conflicting projects? How do the politicians monitor this sort of thing?
There are a lot of irate homeowners in the area. There are also many renovations and tear-down/re-builds of new homes in the same area (one across the street of my house), most of which get listed for over a million. The amount of traffic just for the construction of the home renovators has tripled in the last few years, and the delays of the projects due to pandemic-related issues has made it even more difficult to live a relatively normal life around here. How would you like to navigate around cement trucks and dump trucks and every other conceivable truck every single waking hour of your day for three years plus counting? (It’s been annoying.)
Visiting the kids from out of town is an adventure every time I arrive in the city. Not a fun one… It takes a lot of mental power to keep yourself guarded and in control as you navigate around the area just trying to pick up some eggs and milk…
I can tell that almost everyone in the family is ready to move on, out of the city and away from the chaos. There has been talk of living out in the country for a long time… I haven’t been on board when he first started talking about it, but I’m beginning to think maybe I’d like the smaller town atmosphere as well… I certainly like living in the burbs with my mom, but once I venture out on my own I am not going to be able to afford her affluent town…
At the moment though, nothing will happen in terms of selling or moving. We agreed a long time ago that we’d hang on to the house until the youngest is out of high school. That’s another three years of living with the chaos that is city urban planning. All we can do is grin and bear it.