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Simple answers to Complex Questions and Complex Answers to Simple Questions. In real life, I'm a Greater-Toronto (Canada) Realtor with RE/MAX Hallmark Realty Ltd, Brokerage. I first joined RE/MAX in 1983 and was first Registered to Trade in Real Estate in Ontario in 1974. Formerly known as "Two-Finger Ramblings of a Forensic Acuitant turned Community Synthesizer"

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Tuesday, September 25, 2007

The Road Not Taken - HOV lanes on the 404

Dear Editor, Motorists & Min of Transpo,
cc Prime Minister Dalt-ie

I cruised down the 404 about 4:15 this afternoon from Bloomington to Sheppard and observed the strangest thing - a new roadway, the High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lane with a high-tech, swooping subterranean ramp to the 401 west at the end of it, so wildly underutilized that Frost's poem's title jumped into my head "the Road Not Taken"

As you know, the 404 southbound was under road construction and lane renovation for ages over the past few years as it was widened and re-configured to accommodate more lanes, new s/bound "to 401" & "to DVP" streams of lanes as well as the s/bound HOV lane (now n/bound too) and all the bridge and cloverleaf modifications that were also necessary.

Oh how we crawled up the 404 each evening from Sheppard or Finch up to the 407, or #7, or 16t, or Maj Mac (or sometimes all the way north) as the volume of traffic from 401e, 401w, DVP, Sheppard, Finch & Steeles all piled into the crush making its way up through the ever-changing lane configurations and bumpy pavement. And we watched a similar tangle going the opposite way.

Enough about the 'pain' - it's all done now.

But ... it's no better!

Alone in the car I did not venture into the High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lane on the extreme left - nor did many drivers.

It appears that most of them were jockey for position (from as far north as Steeles) to get in the 'proper lane' as they approached the DVP/401/404 daily (and often all-day) schmozzle. Crazy nut drivers were using on-ramps and off ramps at Finch and Sheppard to jump out and around and back into the packed lanes headed 'to 401'.

Others, caught-off-guard, or 404 newbies were sitting stopped, or slowed to a crawl with their plaintive turn-blinkers on (as regulars zoomed around them) furtively looking, helpless hoping that they'd find a place of entry into the solid double line headed for the 401.

And of course the me-first, I'm-special, traffic-idiots were out it full force, running up beside the bumper-to-bumper 'to 401' lanes until just before the physical lane dividers and then jamming on the brakes to squeeze themselves in at the last minute - causing domino-effect near-crashes and ripple-effect congestion up the abutting lanes on both sides.

Meanwhile the HOV lane was pretty empty.

A perfectly good s/bound lane to 'bypass the 401 schmozzle' or head lickety-split onto the 401 west via the custom-crafted, under the old ramps, super-duper, new HOV ramp - virtually empty, just about nobody using it.

All that money, all that construction, all that promotion about carpooling and hardly anyone is using it.

All that money, time, energy etc etc to create this new lane, to smooth out the traffic, but it's not being used - we might as well have not bothered and saved all that money, construction mess, aggravation etc because we've got the same number of net lanes as before.

Same story for northbound except upside-down, backwards or in reverse (depending on your thought process).

Rethink this.

Put time limits on the lanes as is done on Don Mills Road and Eglinton East HOV's

If carpooling and dedicated bus lanes are the reason for creating these 404 HOV, fine, increase the load-limit to three people if you want, but limit the HOV to ONLY its rush hour ie am for south and pm for north.

Let's face it there's no significant amount of carpooling going to happen or to be encouraged off-peak.

Let's use that hard-fought lane capacity 18-20 hours of the day & night, preserve that greener-than-thou dream of driver, social-engineering by reserving a special time for it each and every rush hour and let the taxpaying-traffic use the whole road the rest of the time.

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