Traffic is like the weather - everybody talks about it; nobody does anything about it.
Except our Mayor and City Council, and everything they do just makes it worse.
Still, was it just me, or was this past week particularly stupid?
As the old joke goes, there are two seasons in Canada - winter, and construction.
(I know; we whine when the roads are awful; we whine when they try to fix them. I just wonder if there's any sort of warranty on road repairs - aren't they always repairing the same stretches of road all the time?)
But this week?
It just seemed more awful than usual.
Yes, it was unusual to have a holiday in the middle of the week, with the US counterpart today, Saturday, meaning yesterday was their add-on day off. Usually, that makes this weekend among the worst of the year for traffic.
But what was going on Wednesday and Thursday?
It took over two hours to do the 45-minute run to Grandma's Thursday (Happy 92nd, Ruth!)
The pixelboard signs on 401 eastbound just south of the airport said two lanes were blocked in the Express past Islington; 680 News said it was a truck blocking the road.
Traffic was already stopped at Highway 10/Hurontario - unusual even at rush hour on a working day and this was 3 o'clock on a holiday-for-most-people afternoon!
I could see that my usual deke up the 427 past the airport to 409 was dead-stopped. So I bailed onto 427 South, east on Burnhamthorpe, onto Dundas, and north on Islington, hoping to avoid the 401 blockage.
Guess I wasn't the only one thinking that way.
So, east on Eglinton, north on Royal York, aiming for St. Phillips and Weston Road.
But there were police cars, ambulances and fire engines ahead, so it was east on Lawrence, left on Scarlett Road, then St. Phillips, Weston and finally, 401.
Several more slow-downs, but we finally got there. Probably would have been faster to just stay on the 401.
Coming home, the night-time construction was underway, so more stop-and go. And I hit one bump so bad it actually shut off the dashboard lights on new son-in-law's City Golf! I Fonzie'd those back on with a little percussive maintenance, and got home after midnight.
Then yesterday, again heading in to The Big Smoke, the pixelboard signs again said the Express was very slow, the Collectors moving well. Again, traffic was backed up to Highway 10. I moved right towards the Collectors, and came across a fresh crash. A pick-up truck had been nerfed off onto the right shoulder, and a car was nicely wedged under the front end of a trailer (as in tractor-trailer).
Not sure what happened, whether the transport truck had tried to bail out of the Collectors (some people go the opposite way to the pixelboard sign suggestions on the assumption that everyone else WILL follow along), or maybe the car cut off the transport truck and the pick-up got caught in the crossfire.
This wasn't what was causing the problem mentioned on the pixelboard though. Once past that issue, traffic sped up for a while as it alwasy does once past a constriction, only to slow down again near the airport.
This time the 409 deke worked OK, and it wasn't too bad into the city, although it was pretty slow past Yorkdale.
Turns out I was lucky, because as I was tuning in to 680 News again to see what lay ahead, it said that the 401 was COMPLETELY blocked at the Highway 410 interchange due to a jackknifed tractor-trailer.
I just missed it.
That clearly wasn't the crash I had just passed, so I'm guessing the slow-down caused this new one, as the trucker probably couldn't stop in time.
I am answering several e-mails today from truckers complaining about this morning's Kenzie's Korner segment on Motoring 2009, where I whined about the dangers caused by the newly-allowed (in Ontario) truck trains.
Yes, I know most truck drivers are excellent drivers.
Yes, I know most problems are initiated by crazy car drivers,
But when you weigh 80,000 pounds and are eighty feet long...
I digress (it happens, doesn't it?)
The strangest part of this week's traffic? Coming back home again from north-central Toronto, 401 westbound around 7 p.m. on a Friday of a holiday weekend.
I expected I'd have time to plant some vegetables in the median strip.
A minor slow-down at the 403/401/410 combination (the pixelboard sign said one left lane was blocked but it was open by the time I got there).
Otherwise - where the heck was everybody?!?
It boggles the mind.
If the economy is so bad who ARE these people on the roads? They can't all be heading to the Unemployment Office in their brand new BMWs.
Some out-of-town relatives at Grandma's (here for last weekend's wedding) wondered aloud why Torontonians put up with this.
I guess it's part of the price of success. Too many people want to live here, and despite the availability of at least some transportation alternatives, and the manifold traffic-related drawbacks, the mass transit system of choice is still the private automobile.
I'm SO glad I'm a tele-commuter...