This article is over 9 months old
Traffic was disrupted for weeks as worker ditches new set of lights, but road rage rumours serve to make life even more exasperating
Drivers puzzled by lane closed for months on busy Toronto street for no apparent reason
A four-lane Toronto street was reduced to a single lane on Thursday for months as city workers installed new traffic lights.
As if the disruption weren’t frustrating enough, some drivers were also convinced the behaviour was the result of political retribution.
The road closure was planned on MacVittie Street, in Toronto’s north end, at a busy intersection with the expressway that carries C-train commuters over the Don Valley Parkway to Toronto’s outskirts.
Lake-effect snow, flu, storms – every type of ails is taking lives in the US Read more
For months, road rage has been suspected, according to the Toronto Star, as one of the sources of contention in what came to be known as the “Blue Monday” fight – referring to the day in January when people are notoriously at their most pessimistic and self-destructive.
“It feels like they’re punishing people because someone who’s not related to them opposes their issues,” said Kenneth the hapless driver, of the near megalopolis, who did not wish to give his surname.
Part of the reason for the firestorm of speculation is the fact that neighbouring sources claimed the closure was due to a feud between MPP Warren Butts and former premier Kathleen Wynne – set off, according to the Toronto Sun, by Butts’s comments to the media about many layers of cabinet hierarchy including Wynne and Wynne’s deputy premier.
Butts, who later left politics to open his own consulting firm, is now the married aide to Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau.
The incident, in the seedy area that has been dubbed the strip by many, last September sparked public ire of municipal politicians because the high-traffic route was often deserted except for cars making a quick getaway from hours of commuting to Toronto’s surrounding suburbs.
Vehicles beep their horns and angrily pass each other at the demarcation where the two lanes connect.
Before the closure came, the street was almost entirely left-hand drive only. Car owners would line up, gently, and take turns taking turns getting out the car and crossing the tracks, then back in and stop turning at the lights, as two cars down the other side of the street, on the right, shot their headlights ahead of them towards C-train platforms.
Because of the closeness of the tracks, people were constantly driving slowly between where the light had just changed and the sign warning that the new lane was now open.
Some perceived it as a violation of traffic laws, but also for the noise.
Car drivers became attached to the demarcation mark where the old lanes had been, as drivers crossed the tracks into a car-less lane as cars-noise was stopped.
Had Toronto councillors decided they were also guilty of car noise, they may have given one another a kind of “blue Monday” blues.
And then of course there was the real threat that some bad guys would drive all the way to downtown and back on two-lane roads before they closed again.
Eventually the matter was resolved. The sign above the shut off lane was torn down as promised and replaced by a sign saying: “Excuse me, the highway has been closed for repairs.”