They say Toronto has two seasons - winter, and construction.
Out here in the sticks where we live, it's pretty much the same.
Except sometimes, the two seasons overlap.
Highway 25 - sorry; 'Regional Road 25', since the province pawned it off on the Regional Municipality of Halton during the Mike Harris era - has been widened from two to four lanes north of Highway 401 up to Number 5 Sideroad.
The construction started about the same time as the pyramids.
I can't tell you how many different ways that piece of road was torn up. Digging here, digging there, with the road layout seemingly changing twice a day.
At one point there was even a southbound detour through the adjacent industrial park.
I can only assume they put in sanitary sewers, unsanitary sewers, storm sewers, water mains, electrical conduits, fibre-optic cables, maybe pneumatic tubes for the transportation systems of the future.
Each project seemingly done totally independently of the other, so a fresh dig each time.
Then all of a sudden, they tossed some asphalt over it all, painted lines on it, and it was done.
Here's what it looks like now, southbound from the intersection of Regional Road 25 and Number 5 Sideroad:
Which means they made two grievous errors.
One of them could be fixed by the application of a few litres of white paint and a new sign. Where the northbound road reverts to one lane in each direction north of Number 5 Sideroad, the right lane disappears, merging into the passing lane.
As you can almost see here - the sign (the one that needs changing) on the far right shows you what's wrong; the actual merge is just over that little hill:
Come on, people.
When you need to add a lane to a road, you add it to the left, creating a passing lane.
When you need to lose a lane, you chop it from the left, eliminating the passing lane.
The right lane is the driving lane; how can it EVER disappear?
What the hell do they teach in Urban Planning and Civil Engineering classes anyway?
Does nobody in the Ministry of Transportation read Canada's biggest automotive publication? Since those people build roads, wouldn't you think someone there would have at least a passing interest in cars?
Or do they just sit there laughing, saying, "There goes Kenzie again hahahaha..."
Or do they know something about highway design that has escaped me over the 30 years I've been whining about this? (Anything is possible...).
But if that IS the case, why doesn't somebody clue me in about what I'm missing?
From my perspective, how are we ever going to get people to "Drive Right" as common sense, courtesy, traffic flow, driving safety and The Law demand, if the design of the road network actively discourages it?
They could repaint those lane markings and erect a new sign in an evening, and do it right.
True, eventually they might have to paint the lines again when Regional Road 25 north of Number 5 Sideroad gets expanded. Not in my lifetime...
The second flaw to the redesign of this highway is more egregious, because we won't likely have another opportunity to fix it for another fifty years when it will be time for a further update.
There were at least four opportunities to put roundabouts in that road.
They missed them all.
So now traffic typically grinds to a halt four times in about a kilometre and a half, 24-7, when 95 percent of the time it could flow smoothly through those intersections with barely a lift off the accelerator.
Faster, safer, 'greener' - no stopping, no idling, reduced fuel usage, reduced pollution.
What are the downsides?
This has been proven time and again. Look westward a few km to Waterloo and the Wellington Region. 70 percent - SEVENTY PERCENT! - fewer crashes at roundabouts than at the former 'conventional' intersections they replaced.
My understanding is that Ontario's 'official' highway building policy is that a roundabout is at least supposed to be 'considered' during the planning phase.
Maybe it wasn't 'considered' in this case because as I said, the planning for this project obviously happened before the planning of the pyramids, before the Ontario policy was put in place.
The policy SHOULD be that a roundabout be the PRIMARY option for ANY intersection, unless there's a good reason not to build one.
Not that I can think of a reason why just about any intersection shouldn't be a roundabout.
There's another possible factor at play here. The Regional Municipality of Halton includes the conurbations of Burlington and Oakville in the south, Milton in the middle, and the fabricated 'town' of Halton Hills - essentially, "what's left" - consisting of Acton, Georgetown, and the surrounding countryside in the north.
I have always assumed that on the map in the Halton Region Head Office in Burlington, the area north of the 401 is marked "Here Be Dragons".
Because Milton, south of the 401, gets roundabouts.
They work a treat there, as they do everywhere.
Yes, there can be a bit of a learning curve.
But pretty much every society in the world figures them out.
We can too.
Maybe the Regional officials figure us rubes up north of the 401 can't handle them.
What's it gonna take?