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Why Finch West has some of Toronto’s worst traffic jams

Phyllis James, owner of Epiphany Foods & Catering, has had enough.

The traffic outside her restaurant at the intersection of Finch Avenue West and Signet Drive is among the worst in the city. According to a recent study, five of the ten busiest intersections in Toronto are on Finch West.

“People used to come for lunch, but not anymore,” said James, who estimates her business has dropped by 60 percent. “It takes too long.”

Their own commuter traffic has more than doubled since construction began on the Finch West LRT in 2019. “We’ve been told it’s going to be a year before the Finch line opens,” she said.

While the other major LRT being built in Toronto along the Eglinton Corridor grabbed headlines for repeatedly missing deadlines, sparking lawsuits and coming under fire for a lack of transparency with residents along its route, the Finch line seemed relatively quiet to advance .

The area around the Finch West LRT is less densely populated than the Eglinton LRT corridor, making it much more car dependent. More cars means more traffic.

The light rail line was designed to provide a faster mode of transport between Humber College and Finch West Station, with access to local transit in the Toronto, York and Peel areas. When completed, Metrolinx says it will be 11 kilometers long and run every five to seven minutes during peak hours.

People who live and work in the area say that while they know transit work of this scale will cause some inconvenience, the end of construction can’t come soon enough.

According to Metrolinx, the provincial agency responsible for the project, Finch West LRT is “on schedule” for completion this year, and the company has “actively communicated with affected communities about construction and traffic updates.”

Although the Metrolinx website provides a link to track construction updates, business owners in Finch West say they have not been given a clear timeline for when construction will be completed.

It’s not hard to see how this area has become one of the most congested in the city. Construction debris from the LRT occupies much of the road in at least one lane in each direction, resulting in a choppy, nauseating rush hour.

Also, sidewalks at several intersections are littered with stray cones and barriers. In fact, several corners of the sidewalk are little more than sticky piles of mud surrounded by signs. Entrances to malls and stores are almost impossible to access from Main Street without clambering over mud and rubble.

It doesn’t get much better by transit than by foot or by car. On the muggy, overcrowded 36B bus, an elderly woman nodded her head at the driver.

“We have a good bus driver,” she says. “Most wouldn’t stop to pick you up when it’s so busy. He’s one of the good guys.”

In a statement to the Star, a Metrolinx representative said the company “continues to work with companies along the Finch West LRT route” and acknowledges that the disruption caused by construction work can be “difficult for affected communities”.

Further east, at the intersection of Finch West and Jane Streets, Vijay Arun, owner of Mr. Digital Photo Lab, shared similar concerns.

“I have an hour’s commute from Brampton,” he said. According to Google Maps, this journey should only take about 25 minutes by car.

“Business is down… I just don’t know when it will get better. But I don’t think soon.”

count. Anthony Perruzza (Ward 7 Humber River – Black Creek) said voters in the area had expressed major concerns about the city’s handling of construction of the Finch West LRT.

“I live on the station and I have people coming down the road and knocking on my door and complaining about the traffic and how much time they spend in traffic just trying to get through Finch West,” Perruzza said added that Metrolinx has followed through by reopening individual lanes along Finch West whenever possible.

“So far the people who built it have kept their word pretty well,” he said. “I hope they keep their word and stick to their schedule.”

In a statement to the Star, a city official said they are “working with Metrolinx to reduce delays and improve traffic flow” at intersections along Finch Avenue West. The statement added that city officials are coordinating with Metrolinx to allow the provincial agency to “make the necessary signal timing changes needed to keep traffic moving at these locations.”

While some has been done to improve the quality of life for residents and business owners along Finch Avenue West, for some it’s still not enough. For the sake of her restaurant, James is excited to open Finch Avenue West LRT.

“It makes things easier,” she said. “But I just don’t know.”


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