Group wants city to redesign, rebuild downtown intersection
Watch the video above: Bathurst St. and Lakeshore Blvd. considered more “dangerous” than most intersections. Mark McAllister reports.
TORONTO – A group of downtown Toronto residents are urging city planners to take a serious look at a problem intersection near Billy Bishop Airport.
The intersection of Bathurst Street, Lakeshore Boulevard and Fleet Street is in dire need of change, Christopher Devita said Monday.
“We’ve had fire hydrants knocked, we’ve had signs knocked out, we’ve had… streetcars being stopped by traffic coming towards them,” Devita said.
Devita launched an online petition to urge the city to redesign and rebuild the “tangled 8-way intersection.”
The intersection sees Bathurst, Lakeshore and Fleet Street – along with their combined 10 lanes of traffic – and streetcars converge not far from Billy Bishop Airport.
The city’s director of transportation services Jacqueline White admits the intersection is “complicated.”
“It’s got many competing demands, there’s streetcars turning to and from fleet street and Bathurst street, there’s high demand of east-west vehicles on lakeshore, there’s vehicles turning, Bathurst street connects to the airport to the south and then there’s new development in the area as well,” she said. “So there’s a lot going on.”
During the busiest 8-hour period on a weekday approximately 26,000 motorists, 2,300 pedestrians and 450 cyclists pass through the area, according to data from the city of Toronto.
Devita expects the traffic to get worse as development continues and Fort York Boulevard opens up east of Bathurst.
“We have two 40-storey towers coming in here, we’ve got a number of buildings that are 20 or more storeys that are just opening back here and no plan at all for this,” he said in an interview while at the intersection.
But the city does continually review the intersection.
“We’re continually going out there to see what’s going on, to monitor what the traffic volumes are, if they’re changing, tweaking signal timings if there’s things we can do to adjust the timing for people, you know, making changes to signs if that’s necessary,” White said.
White said the city recently made several changes to try and ease congestion in the area including changes to the northbound signal timing, added signage to keep people from making an illegal turn from Fleet Street to Lakeshore Boulevard and adjustments to pavement markings to keep people from turning into oncoming streetcar tracks.
But proper signage can also lead to problems. White admits that there’s a delicate balance between providing proper signage and overwhelming oncoming drivers.
However Toronto Police spokesperson Constable Clint Stibbe said drivers need to be aware they understand the signs before they continue on.
“There’s nothing that says when you approach a red light that you must make a right hand turn,” he said. “They can make that turn when their comfortable to make that turn.”
Stibbe suggested many of the problems – from drivers turning into oncoming traffic or driving on streetcar tracks – “boils down to driver training.”
– With files from Mark McAllister