Scrubby Laird Drive delineates one of those phantom boundaries between the pre-war city and the newer suburbs. A four-lane "collector" road with a certain working-class charm, Laird is the dividing line between Leaside's tree-lined streets and a sprawling expanse of industrial land that has turned into a monster mall zone. Laird T-bones Eglinton at one end and morphs into Millwood, which begins in the middle of Leaside, at the other. Its function in life is to gather up cars from the residential neighbourhoods and propel them over to the Don Valley Parkway.
Affluent Leaside and the big-box malls east of Laird produce lots of traffic. But Laird's two main intersections - at Wicksteed and Macrae, and Millwood's zig-zag along Southvale and down toward the railway tracks - are both skewed thanks to Leaside's swooping garden city layout. What's more, Macrae, Millwood and Southvale were all designed to gather up outbound or through traffic, so those off-kilter intersections include especially generous turn radiuses that make it tough for pedestrians to cross. The Leaside arena, slated for expansion, also does its bit to clutter things up, with its parking-lot entrance situated right in the intersection.
Councillor John Parker says residents hoped to "regularize" the boomerang-shaped crossing where Macrae and Wicksteed converge. "The problem is that construction permission was granted and we've now got a building in the way."
Director of transportation Myles Currie says the city will likely try to "normalize" both intersections when Laird is scheduled for reconstruction, although that won't happen any time soon. The process involves removing the pie island at Macrae and Laird, and then re-sculpting the curbs so they're shaped more like corners and less like on-ramps. A similar process will occur at Millwood and Southvale, where there's a long, lazy curve where a rectilinear corner ought to be. The city's done this kind of operation elsewhere - for example at the corner of Oriole Parkway and Davisville.
There aren't many one-way streets or turn restrictions on the roads leading east and out of Leaside, so drivers have alternatives if they feel like weaving a bit instead of going with the flow. For those heading up to Eglinton and the DVP, Rumsey Road leads to a signalized intersection. Another option is Randolph to Rae or Kenrae, both of which open onto Laird.
Special to The Globe and Mail
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