From a darkened control room within the depths of a municipal office, the traffic engineers for the City of Kingston have been carefully tracking their controlled choking of downtown traffic.
“It started as a brainstorm,” admits one employee, his face lit only in the blue-grey light of a computer screen. “We thought the potholes would be enough to make people go crazy, but they are more resilient than we imagined. We started thinking of other ways to demonstrate our powers, and this was what we came up with as a solution.”
Indeed their approach seems well thought out, as parts of the plan can be tracked back to previous years, and groundwork has been ongoing to ignite the “perfect storm” of road closures.
Beginning last year with the closure of Palace road, crews worked to the very end of fall with hastily laid pavement coming just before winter snows descended in October. This rushed patchwork, now being torn up and further worked on, forms the first prong of their attack.
The second, and most arterial, is the closure of Princess street through much of the Williamsville district, in an area inarguably in need of remedial repairs.
“That was the linchpin to the whole deal,” explains the mastermind of the plan. “Once you close the main artery, everything else falls into place. A few more tweaks, and you can cause some real damage with very little effort.”
Secondary tweaks, aside from the aforementioned construction, include the addition of a stop light on Concession street at MacDonnell, making an already over-taxed one lane road more obstructive. Further tightening the collar is the reduction of Johnson, previously a downtown-bound artery, from two full lanes to one, and the reduction of the re-opened lanes to nearly undrivable dips and holes.
“After that, it all came together,” offers the madman who conceived of the plan. “We managed to take five lanes, and reduce them to two without anyone batting an eye. It was almost as though people didn’t have any clue what we were doing, and by the time we were there they couldn’t stop it.”
When pressed to answer whether or not there were subsequent stages to the plan, only vague allusions could be produced.
“Well, I certainly wouldn’t comment on that,” he mused. “But wouldn’t it be a shame if, for instance, we had a water main break? Or some tree limbs fall on a power line? Goodness, what if there were a gas leak that closed off an entire block? Wouldn’t that be just crippling?”
With an unsettling grin, he continued to say with a wink and a nod that “we are confident that our current situation is stable, and suitable for the needs of the city. We hope that construction will finish ahead of schedule, and we’ll be able to return to normal as soon as possible.”