Thursday, August 20, 2015



It was just an ordinary drive back from the cottage one weekday evening when Mary said I think there was a sign three lanes over saying the two left lanes are closing.
There are only three lanes, I said. That will be chaos. Surely the sign would have been a prominent one, not just a minor one stuck on a shoulder.
A few minutes later, Mary spotted another such sign in between the walls of tractor trailers. And then traffic stopped.
About 45 minutes later, a wasted costly 45 minutes for hundreds of drivers and truckers, we emerged from the Ontario Government's stupid chaos in resurfacing major highways and were headed again to Toronto.
You know, I said, Mark may be right about all this. My youngest son lives and works in China and cringes at how inept Ontario is compared to China when it comes to the length and upset of roadwork.
His theory is that our road repairs last so long and are done in such a poor fashion because of corruption. The contracts are stretched out and supervised ineptly because the various companies make more money this way, and thus have more money to lavish on the politicians they like in an election.
It may sound laughable that we are doing so poorly compared to the China that is certainly having its financial problems lately but I have been to China and know that their major highways make 400, 401 and the QEW look like cowpaths used by sick livestock.
It used to be that we envied the autobahns of Germany and northern Italy and thought the Chinese good only for rickshaw paths and junks. No more, but we're still stuck in 1930.
If Mark had been with us, we would have had the smartphone app which would have warned us of the monstrous jam and allowed us to avoid it. Soon we will all have to carry electronic surveillance just to move down a street.
 I do tune in to 680 all-news radio but I find their traffic reports suspect especially when I am sitting in the jam on the street where they say traffic is moving well. I also find huge gapes in their coverage and if you happen to be on 401 east of the 35/115 interchange you might as well not exist.
There is more traffic roaring to Toronto each night from the east than there is from the north. It used to be said that the heaviest truck traffic in all of Canada was found Tuesday night between Montreal and Toronto. But according to CFTR, it's no man's land. Ted Rogers would not be pleased at how his baby stations have grown.
I was also struck about how the OPP avoided showing themselves. I imagine they were there, hidden in groves, but they sure managed to avoid a lot of work by their absence.
I was reminded of one Friday evening rushhour in Paris when I drove around the Arc de Triompe three times. Believe you me, only the first circuit was intentional. The traffic wardens stood outside the circling chaos and just waded in when the accident was more severe than just a fender bender.
It was anarchy at 10 p.m. on the westbound 401 just before the over-priced highway service station. In fact, truckers and the more irate of the drivers roared into the station and immediately out again, hoping to leapfrog a few hundred metres by going around some of the mess of metal on the station's roads.  Then they butted back in, assuming that most people would avoid a dented fender if they could but they didn't care themselves because they were cowboys who just didn't give a damn.
At the very end of the chaos, when the lanes squirted into two and then just one, there were so many examples of dangerous driving that it's a miracle there weren't fatalities.The jungle still lurks in the DNA of many of our drivers.
I suppose this is another example of what Sam Cass, the legendary traffic guru who was honoured throughout the world (but not in his home Toronto) said was so dangerous it was safe.
There was an intersection north-east of the old city hall where Cass had no traffic signs at all. He said drivers crept through as a result.
But with such huge numbers, it is just madness to take three lanes of a superroad and jam into one lane and do it in the dark for hours. Surely there should be a few OPP officers and a couple of temporary traffic lights supervising the blending to bring some order out of the madness.
The fact that this isn't being done now by our transportation ministry is just another example of how we are lucky to have some of the lowest accident stats in North America.
No thanks to Queen's Park which couldn't even run those special HOV lanes for the PanAm Games without them becoming a confusion. For that matter they can't even supervise driving schools. Just look at all the lousy product on our road. I wonder whether many are still buying their licences under the table as happened for years.
You would think for all the taxes that we still pay on our gasoline that we would get something more resembling reasonable service from the chuckleheads  who supposedly run our roads. As it is, we have road repairs that last for years, probably even longer than the civil servants who approved them and should have been retired years ago because the horse-and-buggy procedures on Ontario roads should have died in the last century.

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