It was surely a slow news weekend, despite the 50th anniversary stories reminding us of the society-altering 1972 Munich Olympic tragedy and the Canada-altering rough and tumble, hooliganistic hockey win over Russia.
The banner headline in Saturday’s daily papers, a few days after The Lake Report had already spread the news, was, “New interchange a first for Ontario.”
The new diverging diamond reminds us that we must sometimes put our faith in the highly paid experts who design our driving futures. And the Ontario transportation ministry is organizing public education sessions to help us learn to drive the complex new roadway. Hmmm.
Graham Robb, an Oxford educated scholar with a focus on French literature, said, in English, “It is a sad adventure that starts with no hope of getting lost.” My American pal Bob Potter provided this thought-provoking quotation, after he recently got lost in France while blindly trusting GPS instructions.
Yes, driving in the Glendale area has been a bit nerve-racking for many years. Wrong turns and near-misses were regular events.
In road transportation jargon from the ministry, we learn that “the diverging diamond will provide improved traffic performance compared to the existing interchange design by reducing the number of vehicle conflict points.” Sheesh.
The MTO’s preferred option for “improving” congestion will see drivers on Glendale Avenue cross the QEW overpass on the left side of the road.” Wouldn’t it be easier to comprehend if they told us it would “reduce” or “decrease” congestion? Just askin’.
Traffic movement is a quickly changing world.
Back in 1958, my dad drove our family all the way from Winnipeg to Grimsby Beach and back in our 1951 Monarch, to visit my granny and granddad for a 10-day vacation by Lake Ontario.
Hot, with no air-conditioning at the push of a button. The “No Draft” (aka vent) window thing created air circulation in the car.
Only 64 years ago and Highway 401 was amazing, with two lanes in each direction east and west, just above what was then Toronto. Just north of Eglinton Avenue, often through farmland.
He explained how cloverleafs worked, in a sort of figure-eight pattern at major intersections. One cloverleaf near Hamilton was so complicated, with four roads all meeting, that it was nicknamed “spaghetti junction.”
Dad somehow got us to the Stoney Creek traffic circle, where a sign overhead directed us to Niagara Falls.
I asked him how he knew that road would take us to Grimsby Beach. He replied, “I looked at the map and it showed me what road to take.”
In my mind, that made him about the smartest and most savvy man in the world.
On our side trips along the Queen Elizabeth to the Stoney Creek Dairy and to Niagara Falls, we stopped and started at red lights for intersections at Ontario Street in St. Catharines and Victoria Avenue in Jordan.
We marvelled as huge ships in the Welland Canal sailed past the Homer lift bridge on their way to Lake Erie from Lake Ontario, or vice versa. Friendly sailors waved to us from the decks.
About six years later, when I was 16 and we were living in St. Catharines, my parents dropped me off at the Ontario Street red light on the QEW and I hitchhiked to my summer job as a cook at Pioneer camp just south of Huntsville.
After three or four rides along the QEW, the 427, the 401 and Highway 11, a truck driver dropped me off at the Texaco station in Port Sydney. I put a quarter in the pay phone (or was it a dime?) and phoned my parents to tell them I had made it.
Yes, my friends, times were sure different. And not that long ago, eh?
Let me ramble to a conclusion, back to the diverging diamond intersection.
Will the MTO provide training sessions for the good people we trust at configuring our GPS?
From Topeka or Moncton or wherever they are located, how are they going to figger out this driving quagmire, with diverging diamonds and cars driving over the QEW on the wrong side of the road?
We must put our faith in the transportation experts. Yikes!