Story highlights Traffic on a Toronto highway has been diverted for months while the city works on its $170M project
Free buses and shuttles have been available for commuters.
The street is accessible again, but drivers are still livid over the disruption.
A shortage of snow removal equipment forced Toronto to close a large segment of Highway 401 near Pickering for several months in early 2018. That closure included the right lane of traffic, meaning that drivers in the area had to detour using a temporary exit ramp.
If you’ve ever been to Toronto, you’ll know that the city doesn’t necessarily like to shut down roads to their residents. Moving congestion to roads nearby is a rarely even considered option, let alone shutting down a whole section to do so.
On top of that, the project was going to cost the city $170 million.
The city of Toronto is far from standing for this kind of year-round inconvenience, though. It has worked to reduce the impact on drivers since the closure began. But it didn’t do so without a degree of controversy.
You see, the lane is still open for free and the free services haven’t been easy to come by for anyone who has tried to use it. Drivers say that the route through the area just feels longer — and they were already already waiting much longer than they expected to for delivery trucks.
“The van that pulled up to me gets all the experience, because it’s heavy, and it all rolls into one on the other side,” said one frustrated driver on Finch Avenue West in Toronto, an alternative route to Highway 401.
The city has been considering a total closure of the lane, but the contractor for the construction project recently informed the city that there were concerns over road conditions in the area. Because of this, it believes there’s no good reason to keep the lane open. But it didn’t change the services offered or the lane closure.
All of the drivers waiting on Finch Ave. have been seen returning to their normal routes, but they still took issue with the way the situation was handled. One driver attempted to give the city a piece of his mind by getting out of his car, sitting on the curb and yelling at the contractor.
There’s already been one recent complaint about the city’s management of the road closure, though. A handful of Toronto residents recently created a petition in support of some drivers who were reportedly being kicked out of their cars and left in the parking lot for hours without access to their homes. The petition argued that the sudden lifting of a city employee’s leave ban, which ended today, means that an increase in commute times is imminent.
Despite all this, the city has maintained that there’s little concern about its ability to respond in case of an emergency, so long as vehicles are parked outside of the designated departure point.
Now, commuters have been moved around, but the road closure, which started almost exactly a year ago, is officially back in effect. Cars have been getting through the lane as usual for several months.
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