Mayor John Tory has unveiled a new plan aimed at fighting congestion in some of Toronto’s most traffic-clogged intersections.

The plan includes upgrading some of the city’s traffic lights so they can be re-timed to adapt to real-time changes in traffic flow, assigning police officers to direct traffic at key intersections and developing action plans on how to reduce gridlock at the 10 intersections most prone to bottlenecks.

Tory’s plan also calls for the creation of more taxi stands and courier zones on side streets near major intersections, so those drivers will be less likely to monopolize a lane of traffic by pulling over and idling.

“We will see these changes start to be made in weeks and not years,” Tory told reporters on Wednesday. “I am confident that these new measures will make a real impact across our city.”
Tory’s plan is directly aimed at the 10 intersections determined to have the worst gridlock, according to city data.

Appearing at the corner of Yonge Street and Sheppard Avenue beside one of the intersections on that list, Tory promised to have actions plans developed for half of the hot spots by this summer and the rest of them by the end of 2016.

Those actions plans could include simple initiatives like re-timing traffic lights, Tory said, or larger ones like re-engineering the roadway to improve vehicle flow.
Once the action plans are complete, Tory said staff will be able to begin work on implementing many of the ideas in his plan, including upgrading the traffic light technology at up to problem 20 intersections.

“The technology behind our stoplights right now belongs in a traffic museum and we are going to make sure it can go to that museum in not too long,” he vowed.

City may push for change to law requiring that cops direct traffic

On top of the pilot project to upgrade traffic light technology, Tory said he also views an increased focus on having police officers directing traffic as a test run of sorts.

The ultimate goal, he said, would be to push the province for a change to a law that currently prohibits anyone other than sworn police officers from directing traffic.

The cost of having police officers direct traffic at key intersections on a trial basis could be “a couple hundred thousand dollars,” according to Tory.

“Something as simple and low tech as having people to direct traffic at key bottlenecks will make a difference,” he said.

Tory’s latest traffic congestion plan complements a similar six-point plan that he released after being sworn is as mayor last December. That plan included ideas such as cracking down on vehicles that park illegally during rush hour, striking a committee to coordinate road closures and speeding up construction projects by having some crews work overnight.

Discussing his efforts with reporters on Wednesday, Tory said he has seen improvement in traffic flow since entering office but not nearly enough.

“If I thought that things were better to the point that I could sit in my office with my feet on my desk I wouldn’t be here today,” he said.

Here is a list of the top 10 most congestion-clogged intersections according to city data:

  • Eglinton Avenue and Martin Grove Road
  • Black Creek Drive and Lawrence Avenue
  • Yonge Street and Finch Avenue
  • Mount Pleasant Road and St. Clair Avenue
  • Bloor Street and Parliament Street
  • Yonge Street and Sheppard Avenue
  • Eastern Avenue and Carlaw Avenue
  • O’Connor Drive and Don Mills Road
  • Finch Avenue and Victoria Park Avenue
  • Kingston Road and Lawrence Avenue

Source (with additional images): CP24