Atrocity of the Month

Bay Street Breaker Boxes

I saw the work crews install a matching pair of shiny steel box things on Bay Street. I thought it must be temporary - maybe they will be lowered underground. I was wrong.

By Trey Shaughnessy
Published January 14, 2005

Bay St. sports the meat-cooler look between Main St. and King St. (Photo Credit: Trevor Shaw)
Bay St. sports the meat-cooler look between Main St. and King St. (Photo Credit: Trevor Shaw)

The Bay Street (between Main and King) 'improvement' has just been completed by Dufferin Construction. The streetscape and infrastructure upgrade is part of the Downtown Master Street Plan [add link] and feature, interlocking brick, stamped concrete, decorative street lighting, landscaping, benches – in case someone wants to eat their lunch a meter away from four lanes of speeding one-way traffic – and the highlight of the project, two gigantic steel boxes.

I eagerly watched the construction of this project, ooh-ing and ahh-ing over how nice this would be when finished. I pictured wide, brick-surfaced sidewalks, canopied by glorious Elm trees, all buffered from the traffic by on-street parking.

However my anticipation turned to disappointment. Yes, the sidewalks are wider and the lighting is new and 'decorative'. However, the twiggy trees – if they survive – will take 25 years to be anywhere near glorious, and the street remains as four lanes, with no on-street parking.

My biggest disappointment came when I saw the work crews install a matching pair of shiny steel box things. I thought it must be temporary - maybe they will be lowered underground. I was wrong. They will remain, asking to be tagged by graffiti artists and posted with flyers. In fact, the graffiti and flyers have already started.

More consideration is given to suburban streets, where these mechanical boxes, used to house wiring and such, are placed underground. Some people's lawns are stuck with surface-level green grids. They should be so fortunate - they could have a gigantic steel box on their lawn instead.

Not to worry, though: this special design treatment is exclusively for downtown.

Trey lives in Williamsville NY via Hamilton. He is a Marketing Manager for Tourism and Destination Marketing in the Buffalo-Niagara Metro.

His essays have appeared in The Energy Bulletin, Post Carbon Institute, Peak Oil Survival, and Tree Hugger.

And can't wait for the day he stops hearing "on facebook".

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