Friday, 20 November 2015

Construction and Road Closures in Toronto. Enough Already!

They say that in Canada we have two seasons, winter and construction.  This is especially true in Toronto, although after living in this city all my life, it seems that even when winter starts, construction doesn't stop, nor do the seemingly endless road closures associated with it.  If you drive in Toronto like I do, it's probably very difficult for you to drive anywhere in this city without having to negotiate yourself around a construction zone.  They're everywhere!  Okay, I understand that there's a lot of work to be done to this city's infrastructure.  Roads need to be resurfaced, water mains need to be replaced and potholes need to be filled.  But what I don't understand is, why must these projects take so long, be coordinated so poorly and inconvenience Toronto residents so unnecessarily?

Anyone who lives in Toronto can probably name one of this city's numerous construction disasters. Projects like the St. Clair streetcar right-of-way or the subway extension to Vaughan. These are projects that have been both way over budget and way behind schedule, not to mention the pain and frustration many Torontonians faced.  Everything from traffic jams to lost businesses, just because our politicians and bureaucrats can never seem to get it right.  Now of course, the St. Clair streetcar and the subway extension are two of Toronto's best known construction follies, but what about the construction problems that don't make the news?  I'm talking, for example, about regular traffic jams brought on by construction crews leaving their equipment or material lying idle in the street, blocking lanes for what could be months on end.  Or how about when you're stewing in a traffic jam and out your window, you can see guys in orange vests doing little or no work at all?  You know the routine, right?  One guy works, another two or three guys stand around watching him and drinking coffee.  It's no wonder that construction projects in Toronto take forever.  In fact, can anyone reading this tell me about a project in this city in which construction was completed on time and on budget?  Anybody?

Honestly, every time I pass by a road closure brought on by seemingly endless construction, I think about an important episode in Israeli history.  In 1948, when Israel was fighting its war of independence, Israeli forces built half a highway between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem in a month.  Yes, that's right, a month!  Under fire, I might add, so that they could get food and supplies to Jerusalem and rescue it from siege and starvation at the hands of Arab forces.  Were it not for this urgent and massive construction effort, my father and his family may very well have starved to death and I wouldn't be alive today.  Yet here in Toronto, where we have much more money, manpower and materials than Israel did in 1948, it takes us three years to fix a few water mains on Avenue Road. How pathetic are we!?      

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