Friday, March 14, 2014
Pan Am Games traffic plans mean chaos for Toronto
More opportunities for cycling and walking.
Parking restrictions and a vague pledge to reduce traffic by 20%.
That’s the plan to keep this city moving during the 2015 Pan Am Games?
Are you kidding me?
Apparently not. This isn’t a giant joke on all of us.
It’s what passes for serious planning in this province these days.
Sport Minister Michael Chan released this nonsensical document Friday that raised more questions than answers.
Opposition critics slammed the plan as a recipe for “chaos,” after Chan unveiled a traffic plan for the Pan Am Games that calls for 150 km of High Occupancy Vehicle lanes from Oshawa to Hamilton to accommodate Games vehicles.
“The whole thing worries me that they don’t have a grip on this,” said PC critic Rod Jackson.
The plan also calls for a 20% reduction in traffic during the games, which Jackson isn’t buying.
“They say there will be an increase of 250,000 people visiting the city of Toronto during the Pan Am Games, then in the same breath, tell us there’s going to be a 20% reduction in traffic,” he said. “It’s frankly absurd that they believe that traffic is going to decrease during the Pan Am Games,” he said. “I just don’t see it happening.”
He also slammed Chan for not having any plan to enforce the HOV lanes.
“I don’t see much of an education plan, I don’t see much of an enforcement plan and I see traffic chaos happening during the Pan Am Games,” Jackson said.
The HOV lanes will also be available for carpoolers and transit vehicles.
In a technical briefing, officials released a document that included a proposal for a “Games Route Network” implementation and “temporary traffic measures and restrictions.”
Chan did not have details of which HOV lanes would be expanded, but the 20% reduction in traffic was “very achievable,” he said.
“We are planning a great Pan Am games. Transportation is always a challenge that’s why today we rolled out the word so the public can have a view of what we are doing and later on this year we are going to develop the delivery plan to move ahead.
“So far we are happy with what we have achieved.”
He said the estimates were based on the Vancouver and London Olympics and other similar events around the world.
The Pan Am Games will see an influx of 10,000 athletes and officials over 28 competition days. It’s expected 4,400 media will cover the event. There will be 20,000 volunteers and 250,000 visitors.
Much of the vast parking lot area at Exhibition Place will be off-limits to private cars. That space will be used as a beach volleyball venue. The rest of the space will be taken up by food concessions and TV satellite trucks.
There will also be on-street parking restrictions around other events, such as near Hart House at the University of Toronto.
In total, there are 32 competition locations over 10,000 square-kilometres.
I’m not sure how many visitors will want to walk or cycle to St. Catharines for the rowing events.
This just isn’t good enough.
Yes, in the U.K., the London Olympics shut down the site to traffic for the duration of the Games, but they also pumped $18 billion into infrastructure and another $10 billion into improved public transportation to the site. That’s on top of an already well-developed London transportation system.
It’s tough to see how an additional 250,000 visitors can get to the Pan Am site on a TTC system that’s already stretched to the limits.
“Instead of an actual plan to move people around, we have a government that’s crossing it’s fingers,” said New Democrat MPP Paul Miller in an e-mailed statement.
“Instead of responsible budgeting, we have ballooning costs that no one can explain. For the people who are stuck paying the bills, Pan Am is looking like pandemonium, and they deserve better,” he said.
This will be a nightmare.
As for me, my plans are simple.
I’m getting outta town.
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