Mayor John Tory‘s long-term plan to curb traffic congestion in Toronto is getting yet another boost with the addition of several new measures that will come into effect later this fall and in the new year.
The new initiatives include establishing “quick-clear squads” dedicated to fixing problems caused by temporary lane blockages on major city roadways.
“These are rapid response teams that will monitor lanes along key downtown Toronto corridors and make sure that they are not blocked. A second quick clear squad will be dedicated to the Gardiner Expressway and Don Valley Parkway,” Tory told reporters during a press conference on Monday.
“We’ll have these two squads that will be watching cars that are blocking these lanes, often times because of a collisions or stalled cars, and get them out of there so they don’t block traffic.”
Another measure moving forward will be to have full-time traffic wardens at key intersections to help reduce gridlock. The initiative comes after the city conducted a pilot project earlier this year with paid-duty police officers.
“We hired paid duty officers to go to key intersections where there have been bottlenecks, both for pedestrians and drivers, and we asked them to be there and take an active role,” Tory said.
“When officers were actively engaged managing vehicles and pedestrians we found a minimum of 90 per cent reduction of intersection blockage by vehicles and a 70 per cent reduction in intersection blockage by pedestrians.”
Tory said the full-time traffic wardens will not be police officers but hired staff employed by the municipality.
“Thanks to the cooperation of the Government of Ontario, which is about to make a regulatory change, we will be in a position to have under the Highway Traffic Act, legally deploy people who are not police officers,” he said.
Tory said both the quick-clear squads and traffic wardens will be in place by early 2018.
Other measures to tackle gridlock include having utility companies schedule non-emergency work to occur during off-peak hours from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. to limit traffic disruption, sharing data with the traffic app Waze, installing “smart signals” that will monitor traffic in real-time, and finally consider the possibility of increasing fines for traffic blocking offences.
“I am going to keep at this traffic issue every day that I hold this office. We’re going to keep bringing new measures in to try to move this city better,” Tory said.
“I have an absolute determination to do that and I think we’re chipping away at it.”