The Side Effects of a Highway Closure

Yesterday it was decided that I should make a quick trip west to Snappin' Appin, for an impromptu Mother's Day fete.... by the time I'd gotten 40 minutes into the trip - the traffic stopped. All the way stopped, not just a "little slow down because someone needed to change lanes" sort of deal, but a full blown s-t-o-p. 40 minutes later, at crawling pace I reached the reason for the delay.  The eastbound lanes of the 401 highway were ALL blocked. A transport trailer had caught on fire. A BBQ significant enough to render the truck into charcoal, and destroy a goodly portion of whatever was being hauled in the trailer.

Despite how miserable the westbound lanes had been, they couldn't hold a candle to the eastbound. 20 km of stopped traffic.  And then the decision to close the highway at the next off ramp resulted in another 20 km of stopped traffic.  Folks were on the side of the road playing football, parents were picnicing on the roofs of their SUVs with their kids.  In short, it was utter bedlam.

Today, returning to the city via the same route, the only telltale sign that there had even been an issue yesterday was the significant increase in tractor trailer traffic.  The number of 18 wheelers outnumbered passenger vehicles by no less than 3 to one.

It got me thinking, there were atleast 2 low-tech solutions that could have reduced the impact of such a snarl:
  • higher median walls to stop rubber neckers - I have no idea why the province doesn't add a few feet more of concrete to medians so that the average vehicle can't see the lanes on the other side of the highway.
  • better radio news coverage - i tried every station on the dial to see what was going on... I had LOTS of time. I finally caved and went to the MTO site on my berry - and even *it* wasn't updated.
And 2 more high tech solutions:
  • more people should have Onstar, or some reasonable faxcimile, to notify them when traffic is going to be a problem. 
  • Overhead solar powered highway signs - really - they should be about 25 km apart from Windsor to Ottawa - and updated REGULARLY.  I love the one on the 400 that warns me if the traffic on the 401 is bad. It was installed smartly - giving people a chance to bail out and take the 407...
Watching the massive amount of gas being wasted yesterday, with 50 km of idling cars just made my heart ache. We have to get smarter.


Technorati Tags: , ,