Comment 13193

By rusty (registered) - website | Posted October 21, 2007 at 18:07:54

Not sure what's going on with these double posts...? Mr Editor...?!

Anyway, Genghis, You make some great points.

But the discussion so far still leaves me curious about your thinking on a few areas:

  1. Why do we need to treat Highway 20 congestion with such a huge road? As you know several other ideas were bandied around for easing the centennial congestion, most of which involved creating slightly improved road networks and other less expensive and damaging traffic management ideas (I confess, I can't remember them all but there were a number of more moderate congestion treatments on the table). What we have done with the RHCX, by, in effect, building a road that goes way beyond easing the current congestion, is encouraging more car dependant growth. The Industrial growth argument doesn't wash with me - there are many other ways to create jobs - so in the end it's about 1. easing the current congestion and 2. creating the infrastructure for more car dependant housing and lifestyles.

If we wanted to just ease the congestion we would have built a much smaller road, or gone with some alternative traffic management suggestions.

The crux of my 'anti-road' argument is that we have built a road which is going to create more car dependant spawl and this is EXACTLY the sort of thing that needs to be discouraged (I think we can agree on that...?).

I'm not anti-road at all costs (although I am able to imagine a world with less cars, something I think many of us find difficult to do). I just think that this road has too many costs and not nearly enough benefits.

I'm not averse to easing centennial congestion either. I just think the congestion measures should be more moderate and try to encourage alternative modes of transport for those who realistically have that option. By building this massive new road we've lost an opportunity to change certain behaviours.

  1. I understand your 'utopia' comments. I am not fixated on any environmental agenda (although I probably should be). On that subject you really would be wise to avoid labelling anyone in this discussion - I haven't been converted to any ideological way of thinking (yet, not that I'm aware of anyway...) and I still drive way more than I probably have to... I'm being open-minded on this. But you seem to be taking the same tone as a political friend of mine, a bloke who actually helped draft the Places To Grow legislation. My friend told me, in response to my complaints that the act 'didn't go far enough', that the initiative - and indeed politics in general - was all about 'dealing with realities'.

I understand this, but the reality is that all the initiatives we take in building a city have to encourage the kind of growth and behaviour that will make it a better place to live. Our decisions have to take into account the 'realities' of the costs of our living styles today and how they will be affected in the future. Sprawl is costly!! The RHCX - whatever else it does for the short-term - encourages more cars and a style of living which is unhealthy.

I'm not after instant utopia. No-one is saying it's easy to create sustainable communities, and no-one is expecting to click their fingers and hope that this will suddenly be so, but we do, at some point, have to start making the sometimes difficult choices which will set us down that path. Congestion is a fact of life for now and for the future. Whatever we do to ease it now we simply succeed in encouraging more congestion in the future at a greater cost.

  1. 'You can't work where you live' (I'm paraphrasing) - Jane Jacobs alluded to the unreality of working where you live in one of her books, and I understand this argument. I agree, it's not that simple. But why is it unrealistic to try and increase the probability that workers can live within transit distance from their jobs? Just because it's not always practical for some doesn't mean we all have to drive.

Look at Hamilton's GO service for example. Do you think if the train journey time were cut in half so many folks would drive to TO? Why do we not put some of our energies into that? For all the $ and effort we spend on the RHCX to treat an admittedly significant congestion problem, we are ignoring the plight of 55,000 commuters a day. Isn't that significant too? Believe me I have felt the cost of that commute first hand and our inaction on that matter is the reason I had to move back to TO. If we are arguing that growing the economy of growth industries in Hamilton is a medium/long-term goal then why can't we improve the transit options for our current lot of long-distance commuters in the meantime?

There are many twists and turns to this argument but, to me, it all comes back to the same central theme - we are treating congestion with more roads. At some point this has to stop.


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