#5 – The Macdonald-Cartier Parking Lot is Awesome (if you like waiting)

Ontario’s Highway 401, formally known at the Macdonald-Cartier Expressway, is an absolute shitshow from end to end. The 401 is Ontario’s, if not Canada’s, single most important roadway. It’s prone to closure as endless streams of 18-wheelers motor on despite drivers being exhausted or road conditions being terrible and terribly-addressed. Construction, confusion, and traffic snarls define this infamous roadway, but what few think about is the sheer mass of its largest segment, the part that balloons to become one of the largest freeways on Earth.

Spanning a disgusting 18 lanes at its greatest girth, this space-ruining clusterfuck turns into a parking lot basically whenever anything happens anywhere. One of the more substantial problems with the 401 is that it’s a crucial road for all traffic going from southwest to northeast in the province, meaning that it draws an absolutely astonishing number of cars – nearly 500,000 on its busiest segments drive it daily. Incumbent to a totally-unbalanced transit system are the inefficiencies – the legendary traffic snarls, the stress, the crashes, and the pollution are all the result of Toronto sprawling every possible direction into a suburban morass.

This of course doesn’t stop cakers from considering the consequences of mindlessly expanding sprawl and highways. Unfortunately they get the whole thing ass-wrong. To ask cakers the problem is that the 401 just isn’t wide enough yet. The whole thing is nigh-constantly being expanded, inducing more and more road traffic and thus more and more of the same problems as before. Normal people would step back and reconsider that just maybe crushing hundreds of millions of dollars of property value under an expensive-to-maintain highway system that doesn’t bring everyone into town very well wasn’t such a good idea. In fact, there are plenty of normal thinking people in AmeriKKKa, which is home to many cities trying different and innovative techniques to handle the growing problem associated with unbalanced transportation networks.

Not so in Toronto, which is more concerned about incredibly-expensive subways to nowhere because suburban English Canadians want it that way. Canadians don’t build the kinds of environments that encourage people to not drive and they don’t get the idea that the car should not perhaps be the automatic default commuting tool. As an example of this, Toronto finally hooked its airport up to its downtown by a method that isn’t tempting death with poor driving skills and obscene traffic problems, and they demostrated a keen lack of comprehension as to the purpose of mass transit while doing it. They did this by initially charging $50 for the privilege of using the new train. To the airport. In 2015. They have since lowered the price because shockingly charging a fortune to use a basic service when the alternative is a cheaper driving trip turned out not to work.

A bad idea’s a bad idea – anyone can get them and their consequences can be hard to deal with. Like the brutal cost of plowing the 401, maintaining it (which creates further traffic snarls), policing it, and supporting it where it’s falling over, sometimes a bad idea can have lasting and costly repercussions. But one expects that putting one’s hand on a stove would quickly encourage the person to try another form of amusement. Upon discovering that something doesn’t work effectively the attitude should probably be less “oh well” and more “oh shit”. But of course that means thinking and planning, so fuck that!

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