Wednesday, December 12, 2012



So David Miller, the vanished mayor, and his chums who are trying their best to make Rob Ford vanish too, have succeeded via the back door of red tape mischief to try to kill the Gardiner expressway again.
Don't be fooled by all the half explanations that all those annual repairs to the expressway didn't happen because, well, make up your own version rather than the cockamamie stupidities that have been dreamed up to date.
Attempts to tear down the Gardiner over the past two decades finally faltered because the excuse that it barred the city from the lake became ridiculous when it turned out that a great condo mass was being built or already existed between the workhorse road and the water.
There were reports that cheated so badly on the stats, they popped like a ripe boil. Bureaucrats, goaded by council's anti-car left wing, diddled with the figures like a pornographic priest. The number of cars that one of the busiest roads in the world carried daily was reduced, as was the cost of a replacement, while the costs of repairs and renovations were exaggerated.
We actually need a new study just to sift out all the cheating from the old reports. If a consultant liked the expressway, there was no way they got to work on any report dealing with its elimination or renovation.
Turned out that real city opinion, which hasn't really been tested by the latest polls, was that those who paid attention agreed that the city needed the Gardiner for fundamental traffic reasons and to tear it down would be like blowing up half the bridges going to Manhattan. To really replace it on the ground would have created a wide band of roads that would have been more intrusive than the overhead Gardiner. And Robert Fung and all those zealots talking about what the anti-car folk accomplished in Boston never mention that it became a embarrassment locally as its costs multiplied like bunnies at Easter.  And it took a century to complete, or so it seemed. But we should remember that it was the most costly public project in U.S. history, a dubious accomplishment that it probably no longer holds because of all the botched public projects in the United States - or in Canada and the world for that matter.
I have no wish to return to all the old debate, except to point out the basic discrimination against suburbanites and commuters from the GTA, ignored by the downtown activists, was enormous. Surely people that daily drove the road had as much of a right to look around at the lake and the Island and the skyline as those who lived in the crammed condos along its route.
Sure it's ugly. Like a furnace or a sewer. But just try doing without those ugly essentials. Turns out that public opinion which in the end made demolishing the entire Gardiner to be a political non-starter because it is so dumb and costly has been ignored inside the City Hall bureaucracy. Why? Probably because the top city officials and radical planners are paid so well they can live downtown and don't have a daily commute. They can cab it or bicycle to work on their 10-speeds while plotting to screw up the 80% of the city that moves around in vehicles and find the TTC to be awkward and time consuming.
Let's remember too that TTC riders get giant financial subsidies from city taxpayers. If we're going to go to some form of computer pass, which of course has grown enormously in development cost, one idea would be to bill the occasional rider like me, a lot less for say the first 10 monthly trips, and charge the most to those daily users who are getting far more benefit from city taxes.
Make the user really pay, a slogan which alarms the socialists and gLiberals who believe the upper and middle classes only exist to subsidize unionists and the hoi polloi.
We need a new traffic evangelism at City Hall that says a thousand cars are more important than 10 cyclists. It should remember that much of the TTC runs on roads too, and there is a transit responsibility not to interfere too much with the private vehicles that carry four out of every five Torontonians and GTA freeloaders but also make ALL the deliveries.
Ever try taking a couch home on the subway. Ever try getting from the Etobicoke Creek or the Rouge to downtown without packing a meal for the trip, like they did in 1850.
The fact that an expressway is falling down because city workers weren't even spending the minimum put aside for maintenance is far more important to me than several thousands dollars in donations to poor high school football players.
But just look at the time spent on alleged conflicts by the Star and the left when one of the most useful city assets is allowed literally to rot. Don't be fooled by the Star's rediscovery of the Gardiner issue, because it's just another way to shoot at City Hall, or the left's pretence that it has nothing to do with the infrastructure rot under the Miller Lites.
The gridlock caused by the anti-car zealots at City Hall, egged on by downtowners who are most happy when they're not bothered by suburbanites, has become a costly mess and an international embarrassment and drawback.
For shame!

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