A closure of one of Toronto’s busiest east-west thoroughfares for months has drivers scratching their heads.
The stretch of Yonge Street between the Gardiner Expressway and Lake Shore Boulevard has been a shuttered lane for a few weeks. The reason, according to Toronto street planning officials: The city has been gradually cutting the number of lanes on Yonge between Pape Avenue and Mississauga Road for several years, but has been unable to do so before summer because of “severe” weather. “Should we look for a window to complete the project before the temperatures get too high,” a spokesperson said.
But Toronto drivers are not buying the explanation.
“It sounds like a scam to me,” said Joe Vanek, one of the frustrated drivers. “Once in a while you have to drive in the middle of the intersection to cross the street, but it’s not a big thing anymore. It’s been open in August? What am I thinking? It’s madness.”
Zachia Griffiths, a City of Toronto staff liaison for the ward where the shutdown is located, said it is not city policy to close lanes during the winter, and the reason for a freeze-up was solely down to weather. In an emailed statement, she said that a “traffic study by the city conducted in January 2016 found that traffic volumes on Yonge Street for southbound traffic reduced by approximately 25 percent from May-September. As a result, there was a need to eliminate a southbound lane between Pape Avenue and Mississauga Road.”
The Yonge closure was first spotted by a Toronto couple in early August.
“By no means does this sound like a reason for a closure to begin with,” said Suzy Hazlet, another frustrated driver. “You really have to be reading into this like maybe there’s a pothole to be found somewhere and [someone] decided this was the way to fix it.”