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Caution: rough ride ahead- All roads lead to potholes

Published April 11, 2014

The Toronto Star for Wheels.ca

Shake, rattle and roll!

Whether you’re travelling on two wheels or four, Toronto’s streets seem to be in horrible shape this spring from one end of the city to the other.

But which streets are the worst? To find out, we polled more than 30 people who know best — from cabbies and tow-truck operators to school-bus drivers and trades people (as well as a few cyclists).

Here’s what we learned, from west to east:

“I saw a family of four in a Toyota Tercel disappear into a pothole on the Allen Rd. north of the 401,” said Stuart Muir, a driver with JP towing. “They really bounced from the impact and then stopped and got out to take a look.”

Luckily, the car wasn’t damaged and they got back in and continued on their way.

“This season has been particularly bad,” said Patrick Trusz, with KBW Towing. “We’ve towed a dozen cars with low-profile tires in the last three weeks.”

He picks Kipling Ave., “all the way from the Lakeshore.” as the worst road in Etobicoke.

“It’s been like that for ages, and what attempts are made to patch it up doesn’t seem to matter. It needs a big fix — extensive work.”

He said the volume of traffic, especially the large amount of big trucks that use it daily combined with a particularly harsh winter have given Kipling quite a pounding.

Mouhammad Alnuhantis lives in Misissauga and works for Bill and Son Towing and says The East Mall is his pick for Toronto’s worst street. “It’s really bad, from The Queensway all the way up to Burnhamthorpe Rd., and there are always a lot of potholes and cracks that don’t seem to get fixed”

Potholes can be a pain in the glass for glazier Mike Thomas of Day and Night Glass: “I broke a couple of pieces of glass and a front wheel on Albion Rd. between Islington and Elmhurst Dr. two weeks ago,” he said. “I’d forgotten about that particular pothole and it got me the second time I went through it.”

Best Choice cab driver Navdeep Dhaliwal is always cautious when turning the corner at Finch and Martin Grove Rd. “It was a big hole for a long time, and it gets fixed every year, but it always becomes a problem after the winter,” he warned.

For sales rep Bree Osborne, Dundas St. W. in the Six Points area is a memorably bad stretch. “It’s brutal this year with more holes than road. I just had my car fixed because the sway bar broke from the wear and tear of all the bumps.”

Daniel Garcia, who is seeking work in sports marketing, hasn’t cycled along Dupont St. (and Dundas W.) this year, but he still has painful memories of the bone-rattling rides from Lansdowne Ave. to Jane St. last summer.

“I don’t cycle along there anymore,” he said. “I stick to side streets to get to where I’m going because they’re in better shape.”

Ashley Oliveira, an educational assistant with the Toronto public board, picks the “monster pothole” on Caledonia Rd. at Eglinton. “There’s a square steel sewer cover with a huge hole around it. It’s so big that it causes traffic to slow down.”

Some of the residential side streets between Eglinton Ave. W. and Rogers Rd., from Dufferin St. to Landowne Ave., are among the worst Muhammad Arshad said he’s driven along on the way to making home service calls in his company van.

“I have been in Canada for 16 years and this is the coldest and longest winter I have seen and that is why the roads are so bad with cracks and holes,” he said. “And some of the smaller streets are the worst.”

School bus driver Liliana Tchoevska named Jane and Eglinton as her worst spot. “I have to be very careful because I have children on board. I slow down when I see holes in the road but, even then, the bus is shaking.”

Dufferin St. near Yorkdale Mall is pretty rough,” said cyclist Charlotte Marcotte, who studies philosophy at U of T. “There are many, many potholes, which makes it difficult when you’re trying to avoid them and watch out for traffic.”

Closer to the heart of the city, cyclists battle both bad pavement and bumper-to-bumper traffic.

“I’d have to say Queen between Spadina and Bathurst is horrible, and so is Dufferin south of Bloor,” said hotel service worker Ryan Whynott. “And Bathurst between Dundas and Queen is unbelievably awful.”

“I understand a lot has to do with construction, but when the city patches up the road, they don’t seem to do a very good job.”

Musician Greg O’Toole cycles throughout the winter and he agrees the streets are worse than ever this year. “It would be easier to name the roads that are okay. Bathurst is awful because of the streetcar construction. It’s a real mess heading south from Bloor St., which is the route I ride most often.”

U of T business and commerce student Majier Madol cites Dundas St. W. from Spadina to Yonge. “It’s not just because of the condition of the road but also because it is so busy with traffic, and there is no dedicated bike lane,” he said.

But even the city’s marquee roads aren’t exempt from potholes. Aerofleet limo driver Kulwinder Singh is amazed at the terrible shape of Yonge St.

“The main street in Toronto should be the best street, but it is one of the worst in the city,” he said. “It is in very bad shape, with holes and bumps, and it’s slow day and night because it is always in a mess.”

Independent taxi driver Abdul Salam Hassan has similar complaints about Bloor St. “From Jarvis to Lansdowne is very bad. You must be careful and go slow, or Bloor will damage your car.”

Vincent Bailey spends his day making deliveries downtown in a cube van, and he’s amazed to see old tracks protruding through the pavement on roads that haven’t had streetcars for decades.

“The roads around the hospitals are really bad, and Gerrard St. near Yonge is one of the worst. It’s nothing but potholes and it has been like that for years,” he said. “I think the damage to the front axel of this truck is due to potholes.”

Diamond Taxi driver Shoaib Mohammad agrees. “Number one is Gerrard St. east of Yonge, and I have to say Charles St. is just as bad. There are so many potholes, you can’t drive more than 5 or 10 km/h or it will damage your car.”

Heating and air technician Robin Shewchuk drives to film sets all over the city, and he cites Carlaw Ave. north of Lake Shore Blvd. E. as the worst. “It’s just beat up and trashed because of all the construction and traffic trying to get to Leslieville and the Beaches.”

Able Atlantic cabbie Dariush Mozarmi said bad roads damaged his front tires twice this winter. “The roads downtown are some of the worst in the city, because of all the condo construction and road wear done by big trucks and pavement cuts — but also due to the very bad winter. Richmond St. is very bad.”

Abrams tow-truck driver Mauricio Mendoza thinks there are few roads as bad as Sherbourne St. around Front St. “There are lots and lots of potholes and it hasn’t been fixed for years,” he said.

FedEx driver John, who said he wasn’t allowed to speak publically according to his employer’s work policy, so he’d rather not give his last name, pointed to a nasty section of  Lake Shore Blvd. W. that runs from Parliament St. under the Gardiner Expressway past the Don Valley Parkway.

“You want potholes? That’s a road that rattles the van and really shakes up the cargo,” he said adding: “Its third world driving.”

Andrew, another driver who didn’t want his last name or photograph used, figured Mortimer Ave. in Toronto’s east end was worthy of mention. “It’s pretty rough from Woodbine to Coxwell,” he said. “They patched it up over the winter but now the patches are like speed bumps and holes.”

John Ramsay, who lives in Keswick but works in the city for Orkin pest control, named Wynford Dr. as his choice. “Wynford, from Eglinton to the Don Valley, is a really messy road because of all the construction. It’s all potholes, cracks and (utility) cuts.”

Independent courier Dave Morris cites Don Mills Rd. as a nasty drive from Eglinton all the way to Sheppard Ave. “It fools you, because it looks smooth for short distances and then hits you with a bunch of holes and cracks,” he said. “I drive it every day, and it still throws me a surprise in spots.”

“Many side streets are bad everywhere in the city,” said  Beck Taxi driver Git Singh said Markham Rd. at McNicoll Ave. is very bad, with big holes that make it dangerous. “I haven’t had any problem because I slow down, but cars that are going fast do get damaged. You have to be extra careful,”

Delivery truck driver Shawn Hogan cited the ramp that leads Kingston Rd. onto Highway 401 near Port Union Rd. “The left lane is about 15 feet of potholes just as you’re turning. Everybody has to veer to the right to avoid them and it’s just as you pick up speed to get on the highway,” he said. “It’s dangerous for anyone going fast, especially at night.”

Kingston Rd. also gets top billing from Crown Taxi driver Robert Hennessey, especially the stretch between Warden and Victoria Park Aves. “There’s a lot of construction that’s been going on for a couple of years, so the road is all potholes and crumbling pavement that they didn’t get around to fixing before the winter. Now, it’s even worse.”

Guildwood Pkwy. descends from Kingston Rd. to Morningside Ave. along scenic sections bordering the Lake Ontario shoreline. But Stanley Dziewa, a Scarborough general contractor, said parts of this route have always been a mess.

“They repaved half of it, and the other half is made for four-wheel driving,” he said. “It’s old and there has been a water leak along there for 10 years. It doesn’t matter if it’s the driest time of the year, the leak is constant.”

Toramex tow-truck driver Moe Elhindawi warned us to mind the holes on Birchmount Ave. “Especially in the curb lanes. There are a lot of potholes and broken pavement for most of Birchmount.” He, like many others, also pointed out most of Lawrence Ave. through Scarborough is treacherous.

At the eastern edge of the city, Steeles Ave. from Markham Rd. to the Ninth Line is school bus driver Mehsati Dari’s top choice.

“This was my first winter driving a bus, and a lot of people have told me it was the worst they can remember,” said Dari. “We have to drive carefully and slow because we carry children. On Steeles, there are bumpy railway tracks and the condition of the road is not very good.”

Bell Canada employee John Marino said he manages to avoid rugged pavement on his way to work from home in Scarborough but he said his wife Judy’s route along Lawrence Ave. E. can be a bouncy ride.

“She takes Lawrence in from West Hill to McCowan on her way to work and says it’s pretty rough pavement,” Marino said. “You really feel all the bumps with snow tires on a car.”

The final word goes to Robin Mossing, a health-care professional who travels 70,000 km per year visiting hospitals in Toronto, Burlington, Oakville and Barrie.

“I’ve noticed the roads are bad everywhere in the city after this winter, with ridges and breaks in the pavement,” he said. “You just have to drive carefully to avoid the big potholes. My worst pothole encounter was actually in Uxbridge on Highway 7, so Toronto isn’t the only place with bad roads.”

Related: What’s your worst street?

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