Q’way Fixes, part iii, selective blindness

The MTO plan to replace or reconstruct a bunch of overpasses in the downtown and the west side is comprehensive, except where it seems to carefully ignore the planning elephants on the freeway.

Complete streets

For example, all the bridges are the same span (width of space in the underpass) as currently, without considering if the roads underneath should graduate from the 1950’s ideal of all car all the time, towards a more comprehensive complete streets approach. For this oversight, the city deserves a big dose of the blame.

But there is plenty to go around.

So who is going to address the need to redesign those underpasses to modern complete street standards? I think the City’s Transportation Committee should take the lead role here.

Service roads

The downtown portion of the Queensway was designed both as a through-way, a sort of by-pass-over the core, and as an access road to the downtown streets. The MTO caved to short sighted political pressure and put in too many off and on ramps. Some of which have had to be removed (EB on ramp at Bronson) and others are terribly tight (WB off ramp at Bronson, WB on ramp at Bronson).

Since inception, some fixes have included the tinkering with the ramps and the development of service roads on each side of the freeway between Bronson and the canal. Service roads allow the freeway to function as a high speed through facility while access to local streets is made from the lower speed service roads adjacent.

This MTO study mentions the problems with the WB on ramps at Bronson and Rochester, but I didn’t see any solutions proposed.  Are they hinting at extending the Catherine Street service road along Raymond all the way to Rochester on ramp? It looks that way, but they aren’t saying. Who is going to study that, and when, and would it affect the overpass replacement program?

And going the opposite direction …

The longer off ramp proposed for EB at Bronson may reduce queuing up onto the Queensway but doesn’t solve the traffic mess at the Chamberlain-Plymouth-Bronson intersection. There is a detailed private-sector scheme circulating, that proposes a new service road running from the EB Rochester off ramp to connect to Chamberlain, with a new EB on-ramp at Booth. The EB off ramp at Bronson would be shifted back to use the Rochester ramp and the service road. That proposal may or may not solve some of the current problems, and might even introduce new ones, but where is the discussion? And the private sector proponents aren’t proposing to build it themselves either. This is the responsibility of MTO and the City to figure out.

Bronson underpass

The Bronson underpass and associated intersections on both sides of the Queensway frustrates users of any and all transportation modes. And is bloody dangerous for the more vulnerable, ie people who walk, people who cycle, and people who breathe.

With abundant new lands on both the northeast and southeast sides of the Queensway now available (from expropriation), and existing lands on the northwest and southwest sides, why isn’t anyone proposing a reconfigured intersection to replace the grown-like-topsy mess that is there now? A new design might just impact the size and location of the Qway overpass. Hello? Maybe we should look at this before we replace the overpass as and where it is. This isn’t 1960 anymore.

Care would be required to ensure that this doesn’t become a downtown freeway interchange that favours people who drive over all other interests, but surely we could try to figure something out?

(N)o-Train overpass

Let’s not forget to include the west-side multi-user path for this new overpass. I’m pretty confident we will get that path. (You did email the MTO using yesterday’s addresses didn’t you?).

Crowd Source

We don’t need to hire expensive consultants to come up with ideas for revisioning the Queensway.There is a lot of wisdom in the city out here. Set up some focus groups. Brainstorm. Winnow down the list, and see what might work. This needn’t take years and millions, which would delay the bridge replacements. It might start with one Saturday focus group / crowd sourcing session. What about it, Yasir?

Let’s not spend millions to replace these bridges and then regret that we missed so many opportunities.

Transportation Committee, meet MTO. Grab a coffee. Look at the roll out maps. Look at some alternative scenarios. Just because we have had the Qway for 50 years doesn’t mean we have to have the same one for the next century. We don’t have to live with the mistakes of the past. It’s 2015 now. We can fix them to make a better tomorrow.


If only.