Friday Foto

Kingston City Hall, Kingston, OntarioThis week has been a nightmare for commuters in Kingston.  A fiery accident early Wednesday morning closed the westbound lanes of the 401 for almost the entire day.  The end result diverted a considerable amount of traffic to Highway 2, putting additional strain on the LaSalle Causeway, downtown Kingston and beyond.  If anyone ever disputes the rationale for a third crossing, they need only look to incidents such as this for total justification.  Although I suppose the congestion and snail’s pace along Highway 2 last Wednesday was slightly compounded by the present restoration of the LaSalle Causeway.  Keeping in mind the fact that Lower Princess Street is also under the knife, it was a terrible time to be car bound.

Just as the westbound lanes of the 401 came back online, we learned that the Confederation Place Hotel suffered a massive injury as their underground parking lot collapsed.  In case the hotel was damaged any further, City officials closed off Ontario Street between Princess and Brock.  I can’t help but feel for the owners of this business, who must be scrambling like mad to find a way to repair and re-open in time for Kingston’s busy tourism season.  That said, I suppose the new Marriott that’s opening a few blocks away has begun to book up fast.  In any case, the real silver lining of this story is that the parking garage collapse occurred on Wednesday morning, as opposed to Tuesday AM.  I don’t want to imagine what that perfect storm of commuter chaos would have looked like.

On a brighter note, it’s the most glorious day of the week. Special thanks to jj8rock for today’s fantastic black and white photo of City Hall.

Harvey Kirkpatrick

Harvey Kirkpatrick is Kingstonist's Co-Founder. His features curiously explore urban planning, what if scenarios, the local food scene and notable Kingstonians. Loves playing tourist and listening to rap music. Learn more about Harvey...

9 thoughts on “Friday Foto

  • Despite the first hand experience of the chaos caused when the 401 was closed, I still can't support the third crossing. Even though this was a major accident on the 401, the highway wasn't even closed for a full day. I find it hard to justify up to $200 million for a bridge using this type of incident as one of the main pillars for the argument.

    Sure the bottle neck in traffic is annoying, but is a one-day headache that may happen a handful of times during the lifespan of the bridge reason enough to spend $200 million? I don't believe it is reason enough. Couple that with emergency services publicly stating they have no transportation problems on the causeway and 401 and there really are no reasons for building this bridge other than to allow urban sprawl to continue in the east end of town.

    The City should take the $200 million it is willing to spend on this bridge and put it towards better uses. There are countless ways this money could be spent (new City offices, green energy (solar) that the City wants to install on its buildings, fixing existing roads, building bike lanes, beautifying parks, paying for the pool complex in the west end, fixing Artillery Park, paying for the Memorial Centre revitalization, building social housing, etc). There are many projects this money could pay for, spend it where it is needed.

  • Admittedly I have not followed the third bridge conversation very closely but I am inclined to agree with 3aw6 about how the city should spend 200 million dollars of its/our money. Doing one thing versus many things seems like easy math to me. Fix what we have/make what is already here even more efficient rather than build something new that we may or may not need. I would really like to see them install more solar panels on city buildings, make improvements to existing roads and see more work done to local parks and children play areas.

  • FIX THE ROADS! FIX THE ROADS! (everybody!) As a driver and a cyclist, this season is always a great reminder of how terrible (and terribly embarrassing) our roads are. I can't ride or drive anywhere in this city without swerving several times or having that moment when your car hits a pothole and all you can do is cringe and hope. I'm worried that myself or some other cyclist is going to get hit trying to avoid spilling over on one of them.

  • 3aw6,

    You obviously don't live or work on the other side of the causeway. Typical Kingston "it doesn't affect me 'cause I live and work downtown, so I don't care" mindset… And yet you whine when many of us choose to shop at malls and big box stores rather than downtown because you refuse to spend money to make getting around easier for the unwashed masses who live or work on the outskirts of the city… But you want me to pay for new city offices, solar panels, "social housing", and bike lanes???

    My commute takes me across the "green monster" every day, and I am heartily sick of sitting in needless traffic snarls to get home. 40 minutes to travel a grand total of 8 kilometers is ludicrous in a city of 100 000 people; do you think I have nothing better to do with my time? Try and get home from the base at around 4:30 and see how you like it…

    The emergency vehicle argument is a red herring; traffic moves out of the way for them, and they carry on regardless of traffic signals . I don't have that luxury…

    • You should ride a bike. You’d get there in no time.

      Not to say I agree with 3aw6, I think a third crossing is definitely worth the time and money. As someone who lives downtown, I want to see more people able to come and shop and eat here easily.

      • Yep, I haven't noticed things being terrible for 'commuters' (in general), I have noticed things being terrible for motorised commuters. Commuting can be done by other means (especially now the weather is so much better). That's not to say I am not sympathetic to people who have no choice, I am.

  • I have never understood why traffic grinds to such a standstill crossing the green monster. I have never lived on that side of the city, so have limited experience in crossing it during busier periods. Surely the problem has more to it than it being a single lane of traffic? Is it the traffic lights on RMC side that hold traffic up, and if so, would roundabouts (or a dual turning lane) perhaps move things along more smoothly? On the downtown side, you are left dealing with an old city with limited ability to change much infrastructure, but perhaps somehow connecting the traffic to queen street more efficiently might help? No matter what, poor road mapping and traffic control strikes me as the biggest problem here, not the single lane crossing.

    Building a $200million bridge seems excessive, when there are smaller steps that could and should be explored first.

  • Ryan,

    The city has been aware of this problem for twenty years, and done nothing. Hardly the fault of those of us who have to put up with this B.S. on a daily basis. The causeway is handling far more traffic than it was ever designed to deal with, and the problem will only get worse…

    Many of the points you make are valid though, especially in regard to the illogical, disorganised rabbit warren of streets the causeway empties onto. The alteration of streets and traffic lights to accomodate the KRock Centre has magnified this problem tenfold. Nothing short of some serious demolition and rerouting will fix this, and we all know that will never happen. On the only available alternate route, the plague of ill-timed traffic lights impeding access to the 401 cause gridlock there as well. Traffic is often backed up from the base all the way down past Star Tek in this direction. I have timed the trip, using at least ten different variations; none is any better than the other.

    It's too late for minor tweaks now, the city has stalled too long. Time to bite the bullet, cut back on the vanity projects, and build a new crossing…

  • I found that quite a bit of traffic was detouring north of the 401 to Kingston Mills road, rather than taking the downtown route.

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